Once a new face on the exercise scene, now almost everyone has heard of High Intensity Interval Training – or HIIT.
With it’s short bursts of exercise interspersed with brief rest periods, it’s a great way to burn fat and get fit. If that’s a bit extreme for you, or you simply don’t have the time, there’s HIIPA – High Intensity Incidental Physical Activity – a way to get fit without really having to make extra time to exercise.
Sounds good, but what’s it actually all about?
What does it mean?
A study by the University of Sydney, in collaboration with four other universities, and published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, looked into the big challenge faced by people most at risk of developing lifestyle-related chronic disease, “the most physically inactive, unfit, and overweight or obese middle-aged individuals, that is, the majority of the adult population.” The potential solution the scientists came up with was HIIPA.
It involves short, sharp bursts of high-intensity exercise in situations that are already part of your day-to-day life, hence the “incidental” part of it all. This isn’t about going out of your way to hit the gym, just taking aspects of your daily routine up a notch.
How can you do it yourself?
It’s basically anything you’re already doing that can be increased in intensity, so you’re out of breath.
This could be a brief stint of walking quicker than your normal pace, choosing to dash up the stairs instead of taking the lift, or even parking your car further away so you have to carry your shopping a bit longer. It doesn’t have to be long and you don’t have to be dripping in sweat by the end – just enough so you need to catch your breath.
What do the experts say about it?
“Regular incidental activity that gets you huffing and puffing even for a few seconds has great promise for health,” says Emmanuel Stamatakis, professor of physical activity, lifestyle and population health in the University of Sydney’s Charles Perkins Centre and School of Public Health, who worked on the study.
Unlike a lot of fad exercise trends claiming to change your life, this one won’t cost you a lot of time or money. In fact, the authors of this study say you can reap the benefits from three to five HIIPA sessions – five to 10 minutes a day. Yes, you’d have to do this most days of the week, but it’s definitely easier to work into your life than a long and gruelling gym session.
The important thing, the authors say, is to make sure you actually get out of breath. It’s not enough just to move more than you sit.
And anything that improves fitness and reduces the risk of obesity and heart disease, without spending hours on a treadmill, sounds good to us.