How HIIT Cardio Class Differs from Doing Cardio on Your Own
For many years now, cardio exercises have been an essential part of our workout regime to lose weight, build stamina and muscle endurance, and strengthen your heart and lungs. Hitting the treadmill at a gym, going for a morning jog or an aerobics class or swimming regularly are some exercises that have become part of our cultural and social ethos.
By definition, cardio exercises can be any rhythmic activity that raises our heart rate into the target heart rate zone, where the body starts burning fat and calories. The best thing about such exercises is that you do not have to workout for long hours to realize the benefits, even a 15-minute cardio workout everyday can lower blood pressure and elevate mood, according to an article by New York Health & Racquet Club.
But in recent years, HIIT or High Intensity Interval Training workouts have been gaining popularity. Both HIIT and cardio are often mistakenly thought to be the same thing. In many ways, they are, but they also have significant differences.
How HIIT Differs from Cardio
While cardio is any type of exercise that leads to a sustained increase in heart rate, HIIT includes intense phases lasting anywhere between seconds to minutes, performed at 85% to 95% of a person’s heart rate. In that way, cardio is aerobic in nature, since the muscles require oxygen to perform the exercises, while HIIT is anaerobic, according to a study published on The National Center for Biotechnology Information. In HIIT, these intense bursts of activities are followed by a recovery period of a duration that can be shorter, same or longer than the period of workout.
One of the major benefits of HIIT over traditional cardio is that it is metabolic and can aid the body to burn calories both during and post workout. This process, known as post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) or “after-burn,” takes the body back to its level before the exercise, according to an article on Verywell Fit.
HIIT also has other benefits, like reducing belly fat, improving insulin sensitivity and heart health.
Which One is Right for You?
With greater benefits than cardio, should HIIT be the more obvious route to fitness? The answer is no.
It is important to note that aerobic and anaerobic exercises can both affect the body and heart in different ways. Too much HIIT can lead to burnout, which is why experts recommend one to two HIIT workouts a week to prevent overtraining.
If you are exercising just to improve mental health and overall mood, daily cardio activities combined with HIIT exercises at regular intervals might be more suited for you. Most healthy, active and young people can adapt to HIIT programs, but to do that, one needs to build a foundation of fitness, with regular moderate intensity exercises for several weeks.
For older people, HIIT could be beneficial, but also carry a risk of injuries, especially with exercises like sprints and plyometrics.
In conclusion, it is best to strike a balance between the two by consulting a personal trainer.