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Active Voice: Is High-Intensity Interval Training a Time-Efficient Exercise Strategy to Promote Health?

from By Martin Gibala, Ph.D.

Viewpoints presented in SMB commentaries reflect opinions of the authors and do not necessarily reflect positions or policies of ACSM.

Martin Gibala, Ph.D., is Professor and Chair of the Department of Kinesiology at McMaster University. He studies the regulation of energy metabolism from the molecular to whole-body level and also conducts applied research that examines the impact of nutrition and training on exercise performance. He and his colleagues published a research article related to this commentary that appeared in the Oct. 2011 issue of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise® (MSSE). For more on the topic, see Dr. Gibala’s review in the April 2008 issue of ACSM’s Exercise and Sports Sciences Reviews (ESSR), titled “Metabolic adaptations to short-term high-intensity interval training: a little pain for a lot of gain?

High-intensity interval training (HIT) describes exercise that is characterized by brief, intermittent bursts of vigorous activity, interspersed by periods of rest or low-intensity exercise. HIT is infinitely variable, with the specific physiological adaptations induced by this form of training determined by various factors including the precise nature of the exercise stimulus (i.e., the intensity, duration and number of intervals performed, as well as the duration and activity patterns during recovery). When compared on a matched-work basis, or when estimated energy expenditure is equivalent, HIT can serve as an effective alternative to traditional endurance training, inducing similar or even superior changes in a range of physiological, performance and health-related markers in both healthy individuals and diseased populations. more


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