We all know that exercise is good for us. However, not all of us know that we can maximize the benefits of our workouts. High-intensity interval training, also called interval training for short, refers to workouts that alternate between intense activity and recovery periods of less-intense exercise. The type of exercise involved can be pretty much anything from jogging and cycling to rope jumping. For example, an interval training workout could have you running as fast as you can for one minute and then light-jogging or walking for two minutes. These three-minute intervals could then be repeated five times for a 15-minute workout. Not sure whether to take up interval training? Read on!
Burning More Calories
Interval training is often used as a part of weight loss programs because it burns far more calories than traditional aerobic or cardiovascular exercise. According to TheGoodEstate, 20 minutes of interval training can burn the same amount of calories than 50 minutes of continuous lower-intensity exercise. Besides, your body has to work harder to recover after strenuous exercise, which means more calories burnt even after you have stopped your workout. Those looking to shed some extra pounds will be happy to know that your body also produces more human growth hormone following intense exercise sessions, which also equates to more burnt calories.
Better General Health
Interval training not only ensures that you lose more calories, but it also amplifies other benefits of cardio exercise. That includes a reduction in cholesterol, which can be a considerable contributor to inflammatory issues and arthritis. In fact, according to research, interval training has been reported to reduce cholesterol after only eight weeks of exercise. Regular interval training can also boost your immune system, meaning fewer colds and sick days. Also, the increase in body temperature during strenuous activity can be compared to your body’s response to viruses and flues, and for a good reason. The rise in temperature can help kill bacteria, preventing any nasties from taking hold of your body.
The short periods of intense exercise involved in interval training boost the production of endorphins, the feel-good hormones secreted by the brain. Scientists from UC Davis Health Systems have found that vigorous exercise also increases the levels of glutamate and gamma-aminobutyric acid (also known as GABA), two neurotransmitters that have a relaxing effect on the nervous system. Conversely, low levels of GABA have been linked to depression. Similarly, according to researchers at the University of Texas, interval training can increase brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a protein credited with better cognitive function and mood regulation. Taking vitamin D3 in conjunction with workouts, can further improve mood and reduce depressive disorders.
If you have been putting off starting a fitness program due to a busy schedule, listen up. Interval training can get you into shape in less than half the time of a regular low-intensity workout. That means that you can be in and out of the gym in half the time. According to research, 27 minutes of interval training three times per week has the same effect as an hour of regular cardio five times per week.
Interval training increases your heart rate, which is incredible for your cardiovascular health. A stronger heart, in turn, is better at distributing blood around the body, which means lower resting heart rate. Over time, this can lead to lower blood pressure and decrease the risk of heart diseases, such as heart attacks. According to a study by the American Journal of Cardiology, in some cases, interval training can even be used as a valuable part of cardiac rehabilitation for individuals with cardiovascular health issues. Besides, interval training puts pressure on your blood vessels and arteries, increasing their elasticity and strength.
The intense nature of interval training is ideal for increasing stamina and physical performance. Strenuous exercise not only decreases blood pressure but also increases mitochondria in the blood, which acts as fuel for the muscles. That, in turn, boosts endurance and helps you perform better when you play sports, exercise, or go about your daily tasks. Interval training also causes better cardiovascular efficiency, or your body’s ability to pump oxygen to your muscles, and a decrease in the build-up of lactic acid – all these resulting in better endurance, and higher speed and overall performance.
It’s Easier to Stick With
Let’s face it – monotonous exercise routines are no fun. Interval training, on the other hand, shakes things up in this area. To cut a long story short, varying the intensity of your exercise can bring some, well, variety into your exercise routine. That, in turn, can eliminate the boredom of prolonged exercise by keeping your mind occupied. Also, interval workouts can be integrated into a vast range of exercise routines, from running on a treadmill to rope jumping. As such, it’s little surprise that people tend to stick with interval training longer than they do with low-intensity exercise.
Exercise has anti-aging properties, with a direct link between how much you exercise and your life expectancy. As interval training is more efficient than regular exercise and is much more likely to make you motivated to keep using, it is a great way to extend your lifespan. Interval training also helps to increase your body’s production of human growth hormone, or HGH, which helps to repair damaged cells.
Better Oxygen Efficiency
Interval training can raise the rate at which your muscles extract oxygen out of the blood by up to 100 percent. Measured in VO2 Max, better oxidative capacity provides your muscles with the oxygen they need to function correctly (it can also increase the rate at which lactic acid is removed from your blood). That is important because even if your lungs are working at their full capacity and your oxidative capacity is low, this will make little to no difference. While regular endurance training can also help to increase your oxidative capacity, interval training does so at a much faster rate.