Judging by how few faces I’m seeing at the gym these days, it appears lots of people are letting their workout regimens slide lately. I get it: we’re in the heart of summer, there are vacations to take and BBQs to plan and watermelons to eat, and working out is just likely not at the top of your to-do list.
I probably don’t need to list for you all the benefits of regular exercise–ok, maybe just a few reminders: healthier bones, better sleep, boosted metabolism that burns more calories at rest, better mental health, stress relief, a healthier heart, and better sex. On top of all those, exercise is also critically important for maintaining blood sugar regulation. In particular, if you tend towards high blood sugar (perhaps having heard the words “pre-diabetic” coming your way), exercise has the ability to get desensitized insulin receptors working again, thereby lowering blood sugar.
Finding time to exercise is of course the number one barrier I hear mentioned, as I work with clients. The great news is, studies are showing over and over that short bursts of high intensity workouts—known as HIIT, or high intensity interval training—are among the most effective types of exercise for lowering blood sugar and losing weight.
In a new study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine , researchers compared HIIT—a style of exercise that includes short bursts of high-cardio exercises like sprints and burpees with intermittent recovery periods—to more steady-state moderate workout approaches. While they found both exercises reduced overall weight and percentage of body fat in participants, those who participated in HIIT workouts lost 28.5 % more weight.
HIIT workouts are convenient both because no gym or equipment is needed, and because you can do them when you have just a few minutes to spare. I’m a big fan of the “7 Minute Workout: Fitness App” (and there are other similar ones available), and I also like this great HIIT workout idea. Once you find some favorite exercises, you can easily create your own routines. Just aim for 20-30 second bursts of intense activity, followed by twice that–40-60 seconds–of rest. Work up to repeating 8 – 10 times, and go on with your day!
Give it a try and let me know what you think!