High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is a time-efficient exercise strategy that allows people to squeeze their workouts into short periods of intense anaerobic exercise, separated by less-intense recovery periods.
These shorter workouts are an especially attractive option for those who want the benefits of exercise but are short on time. Still, there is the concern that many people may shy away from such strenuous exercise, believing it to be too uncomfortable or difficult.
In a new study, published in the Journal of Sport Sciences, researchers at the University of British Columbia (UBC) studied the attitudes of moderate exercisers toward HIIT. They found that not only are people open to the idea of such intense anaerobic activity, but that these bouts of exercise are particularly more enjoyable with music.
“There has been a lot of discussion in the exercise and public policy worlds about how we can get people off the couch and meeting their minimum exercise requirements,” says researcher Kathleen Martin Ginis, professor of health and exercise sciences at UBC.
“The use of HIIT may be a viable option to combat inactivity, but there is a concern that people may find HIIT unpleasant, deterring future participation.”
The new findings show that the participants (who were all first-timers to HIIT) not only had good attitudes toward this type of exercise, but that they also felt more positive about the intense exercise regimen if they listened to music while they exercised. The participants also maintained positive attitudes about engaging in HIIT again in the future.
“Newer research has established that as little as 10 minutes of intense HIIT, three times per week can elicit meaningful health benefits,” says researcher Matthew Stork, a Ph.D. candidate at UBC’s Okanagan campus.
“For busy people who may be reluctant to try HIIT for the first time, this research tells us that they can actually enjoy it, and they may be more likely to participate in HIIT again if they try it with music.”
According to many traditional exercise recommendations, adults aged 18 to 64 are advised to log a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous exercise per week.
“Our research aims to learn more about people’s perceptions towards HIIT and ultimately determine if people can adhere to these types of exercises in the long term,” says Stork. “With the introduction of HIIT exercise, people may not necessarily require the dreaded 150-minute weekly total.”