It’s something our wellness coaches hear all the time: “I’d like to get fit, but I just don’t have enough time to go to the gym” or “there’s just not enough time in my work week to get my weekly exercise in.” The CDC recommends 150 minutes of exercise per week, which breaks down to an average of 5 half hour sessions a week, or about 22 minutes per day. You can also meet your requirements in 2.5 one-hour increments, or a series of 5 and 10 minute intervals throughout the day.
If you don’t have a lot of time, high intensity interval training (H.I.I.T.) might be just the ticket. The New York Times has an excellent overview of what H.I.I.T. is and offers an illustrated guide to suggested routines in the feature Really, Really Short Workouts. (The New York Times is a subscription-base publication, but you can get up to 10 articles free each month.)
This is how they describe H.I.I.T.:
High-intensity interval training — referred to as H.I.I.T. — is based on the idea that short bursts of strenuous exercise can have a big impact on the body. If moderate exercise — like a 20-minute jog — is good for your heart, lungs and metabolism, H.I.I.T. packs the benefits of that workout and more into a few minutes. It may sound too good to be true, but learning this exercise technique and adapting it to your life can mean saving hours at the gym. If you think you don’t have time to exercise, H.I.I.T. may be the workout for you.
You can try it with any aerobic activity you like. The principles of H.I.I.T. can be applied to running, biking, stair climbing, swimming, jumping rope, rowing, even hopping or skipping. (Yes, skipping!)
The downside? Even though H.I.I.T. lasts only minutes, the workouts are tough, requiring you to push your body near its limit.
Their H.I.I.T. feature covers suggested workouts in 4-minute, 7 minute, 10 minute and 10-20-30 minute increments. It also offers tips for getting started, mixing things up and keeping it interesting. It’s really a good feature – check it out. By the way, the New York Times Well Blog is one of our favorite reads, you might check it out.
Here are some other resources on H.I.I.T.
- Top 3 HIIT Apps That You Should Download
- 8 Benefits of High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) – Shape.com
- How Often Should You Really Do HIIT Workouts? – Greatist.com
- HigH-intensity interval training (PDF) – American College of Sports Medicine
- Ultimate guide to HIIT – Men’s Health
- High-Intensity Interval Training – ACE Fitness