If you’re trying to lose weight, take heart. There is new evidence that the best strategy is to increase the intensity of your workouts for short periods, rather than have longer but easier sessions.
It’s called “high intensity interval training” (Hiit). The technique is getting attention because recent research, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, analysed results from 36 earlier studies; those results found that all participants lost weight, but those practicing Hiit had a 28.5% greater weight loss.
If you think doing shorter workouts for more weight loss is counter-intuitive, you’re not alone. Dr Niels Vollaard, a lecturer in health and exercise science at the University of Stirling, says most people burn more calories during longer moderate exercise.
So why the greater weight loss for Hiit? Dr Vollaard is considering two possibilities. “Firstly, Hiit may lead to greater energy expenditure after exercise – metabolism may be increased for up to a day following a Hiit session. Secondly, after a Hiit session, you may be less hungry.” The research does show an impact on appetite hormones, although the longer-term effects are hard to pin down.
And of course, Hiit is not for everyone due to the increased risk of injury and higher cardiovascular stress.
But if you’re exercising and just can’t seem to lose weight, this might be a strategy to consider.
For more information, see “Short bursts of intense exercise ‘better for weight loss’ ” by Laurel Ives (https://www.bbc.com/news/health-47242940?). The photo is from that site.