Hate Exercise? This New Fitness Trend Might Be for You

Janet Tiberian Author
By Janet Tiberian, MA, MPH, CHES
July 17, 2019
Hate Exercise? This New Fitness Trend Might Be for You

A new trend in physical activity is quickly gaining popularity -- high-intensity interval physical activity (HIIPA). It’s based on the high-intensity interval training (HIIT) method and could be a way for you to get the benefits of intense training without the risks or even working out.

More on HIIPA in a minute. If you’ve been to the gym recently, you might have seen people moving from machines to free weights to stretching areas in a quick circuit — that’s HIIT, the more intense inspiration for HIIPA. It involves working out with repetitive short bursts of very intense exercise (few seconds to a few minutes) to get close to your maximum heart rate, cool down and repeat. Think of sprinting as fast as you can for 30 to 45 seconds in the middle of a walk or jog. 

HIIT workouts are known to burn a lot of calories in a short amount of time, raise your metabolic rate and lower blood sugar, blood pressure and heart rate. It’s effective because workouts produce large amounts of free radicals that break down calcium channels in muscles, allowing calcium ions to leak into muscles. Calcium is necessary for muscular function; it enables muscles to contract and relax. So when calcium ions seep directly into muscles, it improves their strength, efficiency and resistance to fatigue, studies show. 

HIIT has drawbacks, too — it’s associated with musculoskeletal injuries and rhabdomyolysis, a syndrome in which fibers from an injured muscle breakdown. HIIT workouts can be problematic if you have a pulmonary or cardiovascular disease or a pre-existing musculoskeletal injury. And of course, if you hate exercising, you probably won’t last very long in an HIIT class.       

But you might embrace HIIPA, which can give you many of the same benefits as HIIT without the risks, according to experts at University of Sydney Charles Perkins Centre and School of Public Health. Adding a few high-intensity activities – such as a quick walk around the block, carrying heavy loads of laundry, active work in the garden or heavy yardwork — over the course of a day can make a difference.

In an editorial published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, Emmanuel Stamatakis, PhD and colleagues claim that depending on your age, gender, weight and physical capabilities, working in a handful of high-intensity daily tasks can help you reap benefits similar to HIIT.  

“HIIPA is valuable for everyone, but people who are middle aged or older, overweight and sedentary will probably experience the biggest benefits,” says Bernard Kaminetsky, MD, medical director, MDVIP. “What’s great about HIIPA is that it’s making a few, simple lifestyle changes – you don’t have to train like an athlete.”

Incorporating HIIPA into your routine is fairly easy. Engage in three to five vigorous activities throughout the day, equaling five to 10 minutes per day, most days of the week. Examples of activities include:

  • Walking briskly
  • Carrying groceries 
  • Heavy housework
  • Pulling weeds, raking leaves, trimming hedges

“It’s using the stairs instead of the escalator at the mall or subway station that will help you get HIIPA into your day,” Kaminetsky says.

Before adopting HIIPA, make sure you talk to your doctor. If you don’t have a primary care physician, consider partnering with an MDVIP-affiliated physician. MDVIP doctors have the time to work with you and develop a wellness plan that includes physical activity. Find a physician near you and begin your partnership in health » 

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About the Author
Janet Tiberian Author
Janet Tiberian, MA, MPH, CHES

Janet Tiberian is MDVIP's health educator. She has more than 25 years experience in chronic disease prevention and therapeutic exercise.

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