The team at ‘Woman’ asked me to put the cards on the table. “So Annie, should we be doing a short HIIT session or a long walk…which is best?”. Well, it all depends on your goals, your current fitness, your age, the time you have available but essentially the answer is BOTH. Hiit is High intensity Interval Training which means an exercise of high intensity for a short time, followed by either a rest period or an exercise of lower intensity. Short bursts of something challenging will improve fitness and burn more calories in a shorter time. The heart is a muscle just like any other so a mix of challenge and rest are good. It’s not all about jumping and gasping for breath though.
Hiit sessions come in all guises. Someone with a basic level of fitness for example won’t want to be knocking out dozens of burpees, but something like 20 seconds of fast squats with a kick followed by 40 seconds of rest, would have the same desired effect. Adding dumbbells increases intensity without the need to jump. So high intensity exercise (in whatever form) has its place for fitness and calorie burn but not every day. As the moves are quick and intense, it carries a bigger risk over time of injury and little niggles so any fitness regime (ANY at all) should be complimented with low intensity steady state exercise (LISS).
And the best and safest in my opinion is a good old stomp. Walking. Shoulders back, spine long, core braced, glutes squeezed, there’s no better tonic after a day stuck at a desk. Clear your mind and stride out. It helps prevent (and manage) heart disease, hypertension, cancer, type II diabetes and strokes. Keeps you mobile, strengthens bones, builds endurance and boosts energy. So short hiits and long walks are the perfect combo!
ANNIE’S TIPS: A perfect example of a short hiit workout is Tabata. 8 exercises of 20 seconds each with strictly 10 seconds rest. An 8 minute workout might look like this. Do each exercise for 20 secs, 10 secs off then repeat before moving onto the next exercise. Push-ups / high knees / squats / star-jumps. That’s 4 minutes, then repeat it all to make 8 minutes. See? Taken up no time at all!