What’s with all the abbreviations?
HIIT or high intensity interval training has ballooned in popularity recently. It's the quick fix, the kill yourself doing it, bad ass workout that gives boasting rights and a chance to compare how much you sweated. Yes it has its place in improving our fitness. There’s solid research to show the positive impact that HIIT can have on our fitness and therefore health.
Be aware though, many classes advertised as HIIT don’t necessarily prescribe to the true form of HIIT. True HIIT should be very uncomfortable and involves short, extremely intense work periods and then longer rest times. It also shouldn’t be performed more than a couple of times a week. Just because it gets you sweaty, doesn’t mean it’s HIIT, and just because you’re sweaty, it doesn’t mean you’re getting the best workout.
LISS is low intensity steady state exercise. Walking, swimming and cycling all fall into this category. The science points to this having a great effect on our overall heart health and longevity, and it’s out of this research that the 10,000 steps a day idea grew. Whilst it can be easy to get caught up with this ‘magic’ number (your body doesn’t differentiate between 9,999 and 10,000 steps!) but being aware of your overall movement across the day is a good idea. Meeting a weekly step goal and spacing out our movement throughout the day is definitely better for overall health than the one hour you spend sweating it out in the gym.
I would also argue for another type of exercise or activity to find its way onto the priority list in our lives. Sorry, I don't have an abbreviation for it though! We need activities that counteract the 'bad stuff’ in our lives - the sitting too long, bad posture and stress levels. The type of activities that also involve taking a step back and looking at the bigger picture of all of your physical and emotional needs. It involves you being aware of your body as you move it. This might look different for every person; stretches to start the day, walking the dog, and yoga are good examples.
Sitting all day and then hitting the gym for an hour doesn’t actually have as big an impact on our health and longevity as we would like; because that one hour doesn't counteract an overall lack of activity, lack of sleep, disconnection with our body and high stress levels that many of us experience. Make a conscious effort throughout your day to get outside, shake off the bad sitting posture, move at times when we could be sitting, appreciate the way our body feels at a certain time and act upon it. This is all conscious movement and a contribution to our overall wellness.
It's the little wins outside of the gym that we apply consistently over time that make the big differences in our lives. So be workout savvy - find variety, make an informed choice about type of exercise, enjoy it and don’t go and kill yourself in the gym every day!