Suppose your goals are to lose weight and to control metabolic health, endurance, and time management. This is a must read!

High-intensity interval training, or HIIT, is a cardio session arranged as short bursts of tough work. To qualify as true HIIT, you’ll need to push yourself to the max during every set. Numerous studies have shown that working your hardest is vital when it comes to boosting endurance, increasing metabolism, regulating insulin levels and losing body fat. During the intervals, you exit your exercise comfort zone. Heart rate spikes. Breath hitches. HIIT can feel challenging, and this type of workout may require some coaching at first.

HITT is a great all-around activity because it:

• Can burn a lot of calories in a short amount of time.

• Can improve oxygen consumption.

• Tones muscles and builds strength.

• Builds endurance, muscle strength and cardiovascular fitness.

History lesson

In the 1924 Olympic Games, Paavo Nurmi, a Finnish athlete, used interval training in his preparations leading into the games, where he won several gold medals. In the 1930s, we saw the creation of fartlek training from Swedish coach Gosta Holmer. Fartlek was a different type of interval training but still had very similar principles in that it allowed individuals to work at higher intensities. In the 1970s, Sebastian Coe used interval training as part of his preparations. More recently, and probably the most famous protocol which sold HIIT to the industry, was the creation of Tabata training, first used by Olympic speed skaters, in 1996 by professor Izumi Tabata. Tabata would have athletes working flat out for 20 seconds, followed by 10 seconds rest. This was repeated for 4 minutes (eight rounds).

In the community

Tyler Ramey, group exercise instructor at the Greater Kingsport Family YMCA, said one of the best things about a HIIT workout is that it is not only super effective but also “modifiable,” which means it is appropriate and applicable for any fitness levels. The HIIT training style can always be “fresh” by changing the timing, format, music, etc. to make sure it never gets boring. The nature of easy format changes in HIIT workouts is not only better for the brain but also better for the body. Too often we find ourselves training in the same way, but a HIIT workout is sure to get you out of your comfort zone in more ways than one. Tyler is one of the instructors who teaches HIIT several times per week at the YMCA. For more information and to join the class, visit ymcakpt.org.

With that being said, Healthy Kingsport would like to ask you this question: If your doctor gave you a prescription that would improve your mood, improve energy, keep you mentally sharp, help you manage weight, reduce your risk of disease and injury, extend your life span, and cost little to nothing, you’d probably say, “Say what?” Healthy Kingsport would say a prescription is immediately available — and you don’t need a doctor to write it for you. HIIT is where it’s at!

Exercise Almanac is not finished. Next week’s column will discuss weight training. The benefits/downsides and the good-to-knows.

Healthy Kingsport is a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating a community that actively embraces healthy living by promoting wellness, enhancing infrastructure and influencing policy. Aiesha Banks is the executive director. She can be reached at abanks@healthykingsport.org.