Experts say doing HIIT workouts every day may actually cause more harm than good

It’s no secret that exercise is good for you, living an active lifestyle can help lower blood pressure, improve mental health and cognition, and reduce the risk of chronic disease, including heart disease and cancer.


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends all adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity, or a combination of the two, plus at least two days of strength training each week. Is. ,


For a more vigorous workout, some people may choose a form of exercise known as high-intensity interval training (HIIT), or workouts featuring short bursts of intense exercise (think: sprints or burpees), which There is a recovery period for some time afterwards.


HIIT comes with many benefits, from improving cardiovascular health to reducing belly fat and maintaining muscle, but it’s possible to overdo it on this type of exercise. Here’s what you need to know about incorporating HIIT training into your workout routine and how many weekly sessions you should do before taking a rest day.


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Although intense (as the name suggests), HIIT workouts can provide many benefits for a wide variety of people. Due to their high intensity, they can be executed in a short period of time, making them ideal for people in a rush.


HIIT workouts have been shown to improve cardiovascular health, metabolic health and cognitive function, and reduce mortality from all causes. They are also highly adaptable, they can be done with any method of exercise (cycling, running, swimming) and at any experience level.


Emily Nichols, CPT, explains that HIIT workouts can be fun and challenge you mentally, showing that you can do hard things, too. Health, They are great for increasing your heart rate and metabolism for a long time after your workout, resulting in more calorie burning.


Nichols is talking about a post-exercise period called excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC), which occurs after intense exercise. During that time for about two hours after activity the body works to return to its pre-exercise state and burns more calories in the process.





Because they are high intensity, HIIT workouts should not be done every day.


Your body can’t sustain that high intensity, day after day, day after day, physically and mentally, Nichols said.


Ideally, Nichols said you should rest at least 24 hours between HIIT sessions. Without that recovery, she adds, you may experience extreme fatigue, chronic pain, fitness plateaus and hormonal imbalances that can lead to burnout and frustration with your exercise routine and ultimately render it ineffective.


I recommend my clients do 20 to 30-minute HIIT sessions two to three days a week, with 24 to 48 hours of rest periods in between, Nicholas said. I’m a big fan of mixing HIIT workouts with active recovery days, like walking or yoga, while the rest of your week focuses on strength training.



If you overextend yourself on HIIT workouts, you can become extremely exhausted and even injured. Overdoing HIIT workouts can lead to fatigue and inefficient workouts or even injury if you’re not taking proper recovery periods, Nichols said.


To reap the benefits of exercise, you need to be able to do it consistently, but that doesn’t mean never taking a break, in fact it’s quite the opposite. To maintain an exercise routine, you need proper recovery time, Nichols said; If you don’t take the necessary breaks, you risk injury and have to take even more time off from exercise.


Cortisol released during HIIT workout can also have some unwanted effects on the body.


Norma Orellana, NP, cardiology nurse at UCLA Health, explains that many hormones are released during HIIT workouts, and cortisol is one of them. Health, Cortisol activates your sympathetic nervous system, also known as your fight or flight response, resulting in improved metabolism.


The problem becomes where there is too much cortisol in the body, Orellana said, which is why rest and recovery between workouts is so important.


Having excess cortisol in the body can cause a number of symptoms, including fatigue, mood changes, sleep disturbances and anxiety, Orellana said, and it can also affect the immune system and increase the risk of disease.


Also worth noting: doing only HIIT workouts can lead to boredom.


When it comes to fitness, variety is good for the body, Nichols said. Leading with strength training (especially for women), active recovery and then HIIT workouts will create a well-developed routine that will deliver results if you are consistent.





HIIT may be scalable for most populations, but like any other time you start a new fitness regimen, you should consult a doctor.


People who have a history of heart disease, or who currently have cardiovascular problems, should avoid HIIT workouts until they have been cleared to participate by their cardiologist. That’s because of the demands these types of workouts place on the heart, Orellana said.


But once you get clearance from a health care professional, you’re good to go. Be sure to do a proper warm-up before starting a HIIT workout, Nichols said, and if you’re brand new, work with a certified personal trainer to maintain proper form to avoid injury.


Overall, the benefits of HIIT are considerable, but it is important not to overdo it so that you can continue to benefit from them. Injury, fatigue, burnout, and hormonal imbalance are just some of the risks that can result from overtraining, so keep your HIIT schedule to only a few times per week to maximize your results.


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