Understanding the Benefits & Drawbacks of High-Intensity Exercise

Did you know that just 5 minutes of physical activity per day can boost your mood? Additionally, as little as 10 minutes a day (or 1 full workout day per week) is linked to higher levels of happiness.

However, what type of exercise is best for your body? High- or low-intensity workouts? Running or walking?

You have likely heard of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) as it’s quite the buzzword in the health and wellness space. Essentially, this workout promises to deliver quick results in half the time of a low-intensity workout. The workout involves periods of intense exercise designed to raise your heart rate followed by a short rest break, then repeated for a certain number of intervals.

However, not everything about HIIT and other high-intensity exercises are all they are cracked up to be. In fact, while it’s an effective short-term or periodic workout, there are some dangerous disadvantages of performing this type of exercise every single day. 

Below we explore the benefits and drawbacks of high-intensity versus low-intensity exercises and how each impacts your health.

The pros of high-intensity exercise

Each HIIT session usually last between four and 30 minutes. While short and intense, they are effective as you are supposed to put in maximum effort.

1. It’s efficient and effective.

Due to the short duration of HIIT exercises, it’s great for busy professionals. While you may not have time in your day to make it to the gym, everyone has a few spare minutes they can dedicate for a quick HIIT session.

2. You burn more fat.

Your body is fully exerted in HIIT, which means your repair cycle ramps up to match this, which means you can burn more fat more quickly.

3. You can take the workout anywhere.

HIIT can involve weights and machinery, though it’s not necessary. You can easily do HIIT at home with exercises like burpees, lunges, push-ups, high-knees, and more.

4. It can boost your metabolism.

Stimulation of the human growth hormone can increase up to 450% after HIIT, which also boosts your metabolism.

The cons of high-intensity exercise

Since HIIT is highly stressful on the body, you typically see results very quickly. However, this type of stressful workout can only be maintained for so long.

When you dive into the studies and research on HIIT and the gyms using this workout, it is only for a short period of time. When performed daily for an extended period of time, it can put too much stress on your body and even cause injuries. After all, Your body can only handle so much stress.

1. High-intensity exercise is not suitable for everyone.

You should already have a basic level of fitness to take part in HIIT training due to its intensity. If not, you could cause undue stress on your heart and body.

2. It can make you dizzy.

HIIT often involves alternating between sitting and standing at a speed that causes your blood pressure to drop quickly, sometimes making you feel dizzy. If you experience this, you should take a break until you are ready to continue or shift to a low-intensity workout instead.

3. It will make your muscles sore.

Most exercises will make you sore, especially if you have not worked out recently or did not stretch properly. However, due to the high intensity of this training, you often exert different muscles than you do with low-intensity exercises. You also can overexert yourself and run the risk of damaging your muscles.

4. You have a higher risk of injury.

With HIIT, you move at a much faster pace which often causes you to lose the proper form for some exercises. It’s critical to ensure you hold the proper form, stretch before and after the workout, and listen to your body because you can easily perform an exercise improperly and cause an injury.

If you do injure yourself or experience severe symptoms or dehydration, call your doctor immediately or visit your nearest ER Near Me for evaluation. To learn more about possible fitness injuries, check out our blog, Exercising Gone Wrong: Fitness Injuries That Can Require an ER Trip.

How Daily Exercise Impacts Your Health

It’s no secret that physical exercise (at least 30 minutes per day) is a key component of maintaining good health. However, it’s important to be safe about your exercise regime. Talk with your primary care doctor before starting any new workout routine, and hire a personal trainer if you need additional guidance on proper form.

Want to learn more key stats about your health and how exercising impacts your well-being? Download our free infographic with important research-based facts and tips for exercising.

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