Obesity has increased rapidly in recent decades and according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention more than one third of Americans are now considered obese. http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/adult.html
Moderate intensity exercise is generally recommended for overweight or obese individuals because it is believed to be the safest and best option. However, there may be a more effective option: high-intensity interval training (HIIT).
HIIT consists of alternating periods of intense exercise with periods of lower-intensity effort for recovery. It means less time exercising with the same or greater health benefits than low-intensity endurance training.
High-intensity workouts can be done in the comfort of your home with little or no equipment in a 10-20 minute session. For more in-depth information on HIIT please refer to HIIT: NOT JUST FOR ATHLETES.
For decades HIIT has been used to train elite athletes, but there is a growing number of scientific studies which show that it is also effective and safe for those who are overweight or obese.
Several randomized studies have shown that HIIT is more effective than moderate exercise for weight loss.
A 2012 randomized study involving 60 overweight young women found that HIIT helped them burn more calories than endurance training, and recommended HIIT as an effective way for overweight individuals to lose weight.
A 2011 peer reviewed paper found that amongst overweight and obese individuals using high-intensity interval training, the best results were experienced by the heaviest individuals.
HIIT may be superior to moderate exercise in other ways as well:
- improving glucose tolerance,http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1728869X12000342
- lowering blood pressure, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26293124
- improving cardiorespiratory fitness http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26089322
- being safe in addition to being well tolerated http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4619258/
HIIT gets your heart rate up and improves your cardiovascular fitness level while burning more fat and calories in far less time than you would spend in a typical cardio workout.
If you are not in the habit of exercising regularly, or are overweight or obese, you may benefit greatly from HIIT. However, it is always a good idea to consult with a healthcare practitioner or a certified trainer before starting an exercise program.