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There are many ways to increase fitness. And I often get asked if high intensity interval training is a good way to do it.  The answer to that question is both yes and no.  It depends what your goals are in fitness, and more importantly where your body is in adapting to stress at the time you ask that question.

Stress is unfortunately normal. You are going to have to adapt to stress on an ongoing basis from day to day.  Life ebbs and flows and it is glorious in teaching us through experience.  If someone is having a hard time adapting to stress, they may be either in a hyper or hypo aroused state in their nervous system.  So, the question then, is a HIIT workout going to help?

HIIT workouts are a good way to increase fitness.  Generally fitness is measured in four general categories: aerobic fitness, muscular strength and endurance, flexibility and body composition. HIIT workouts are a great way to increase aerobic fitness and can help with endurance and strength. Body composition changes as you continue with a workout program.  Consistency is key in producing results. 

If someone is in a very high state of stress, for example, fight or flight, then a HIIT workout is not going to help them as much as they would like.  Think of your body as a car. If someone is already tired, so they have little to no gas to run their car, how are they going to get up and do a high intensity workout? 

I always suggest people see a health practitioner about starting a new exercise program.  A heart rate variability test can help determine where your system is at in regards to adapting to stress.  I also urge people to take the physical activity readiness questionnaire (PAR-Q).  

Thus, if someone is in or has had chronic stress, the HIIT workouts are probably not the right place to begin their fitness journey. On the other hand, if someone is ready to begin physical activity and they are clear to begin a program, with a well adapting system, then a HIIT workout is a great way to get there!


***As a side note, HIIT workouts can help turn on longevity genes. Check out the book by Dr. David Sinclair called ‘Lifespan’, where he touches on the research in this area.  Also, look out for the blogs in June that touch on the topic of mitochondria and longevity.