Strengthen Your Heart with HIIT Known to the workout world as the way to burn calories during and after your workout (it keeps torching your calories for hours after you’re done), high-intensity interval training (HIIT) involves short intervals of maximum intensity exercise broken-up by longer intervals of low to moderate intensity exercise.

Huge Heart Benefits

HIIT can be extremely beneficial to your overall fitness, but it tops the chart for cardiovascular health. Dr. Chirag Shah, D.C., chiropractic director of Chiro One Wellness Center of Burr Ridge, is a big fan of workouts that focus on heart health. “Cardiovascular exercise is beneficial to the body for a wide variety of reasons,” he says. “It supplies oxygen to the rest of your cells and tissues, helps maintain an ideal weight and can help regulate cholesterol levels.”

Dr. Chirag recommends a varied workout regimen because it keeps the heart guessing. “Recent studies show that by doing this, the heart actually becomes stronger; your workouts are less taxing on your joints and end up being much more efficient,” he shares.

Strengthen Your Heart with HIIT

Too busy? Not for HIIT

Another excellent benefit of HIIT: it can fit into your busy lifestyle. Experts recommend 15-minute session only two to three times a week. Sound like something you’d like to try? Read on for some instructions and tips to get you started:

  • Choose an aerobic exercise like running, biking or stair-climbing—and alternate them to keep yourself from getting bored.
  • Keep your HIIT around 15 minutes, stretching your workout too long can lead to overuse injury.
  • Example of an HIIT workout:
    • Warm up for around 5 minutes.
    • Alternate your speed and recovery intervals—for example, run at your maximum speed for 30 seconds, recover at a moderate speed for 1 minute. Do 3-4 intervals of each speed and recovery for beginners, working up to 8-10 intervals in the future.
    • Spend 5 minutes on a cool-down. (With a 4-minute warm-up, four 30-second speed intervals, four 1-minute recovery intervals and a 4-minute cool-down—that’s only 14 minutes!)
  • Keep your interval lengths under 2 minutes.
  • Try short sessions, like 5-7 minutes, on different machines. For example, start your workout with 5 minutes on the treadmill, then 5 minutes on the bike and finally, 5 minutes on the elliptical.
  • Add HIIT to your strength-training regimen for maximum benefits!
  • Rule of thumb: Your HIIT session should be intense enough that you’re unable to hold a conversation while working out.
  • Avoid a plateau by adding an interval and/or reducing the length of rest periods over time.

People with serious cardiovascular conditions or medical or health conditions should always consult their doctor before beginning a HIIT regimen.