The basics of interval training

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Routine exercise is a key com­ponent of a healthy lifestyle. When attempting to incorpo­rate exercise into their lives for the first time or after a long layoff, adults may go through a trial and error period as they attempt to find a routine they enjoy. Interval training is one ap­proach to exercise that may be worth consideration.

Sometimes referred to as high-intensity interval train­ing, or HIIT, interval training involves alternating between short bursts of intense exer­cise and brief periods of rest or less intense activity. The Mayo Clinic notes that periods of high-intensity exercise may be as brief as 30 seconds, while the less intense portions of the rou­tine typically last between one to two minutes.

The time constraints of tra­ditional workouts may com­promise busy adults’ ability to exercise regularly. But interval training sessions don’t tend to take as long thanks to the peri­ods of high-intensity exercise. According to the Harvard Medi­cal School, an interval train­ing session that lasts 15 to 20 minutes can produce the same cardiovascular results as a more traditional, moderate 30-minute exercise session.

Interval training also can help people who are not constrained by time get better results. The Mayo Clinic notes that, as a per­son’s body adjusts to more high-intensity exercise, his or her aerobic capacity will improve. That should enable them to ex­ercise for longer periods of time at a higher intensity, producing better results over the long haul. Before increasing the intensity of their workouts, adults can consult their physicians to en­sure they’re capable of doing so safely.

Interval training also can be beneficial to people without ac­cess to exercise equipment, a po­sition many fitness enthusiasts found themselves in during the COVID-19 pandemic. Without access to weights due to gym closures, some people may have found their workouts lacked the intensity they had grown accus­tomed to. By interval training when running, cycling, walking, swimming, or using cardiovas­cular machines, adults can make their workouts more intense.

Getting a physical prior to beginning an interval training regimen can help people deter­mine just how much intensity they can handle. But alternating between intensity levels during a workout should be something most adults can handle, espe­cially after they consult with their physicians about the level of intensity their bodies can handle. The Mayo Clinic also urges people to consider their risk for overuse injury. Muscle, tendon and bone injuries can oc­cur if exercise regimens become too intense too quickly, so take things slowly at first and read­just intensity levels depending on how your body reacts.

Interval training can be a great way to get vigorous exer­cise even when time is limited.

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