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HIIT It! The Importance and Benefits of High-Intensity Exercise

When people consider weight loss, they assume it has to be some complicated mix of magic and luck, but effective weight management can be found in high-intensity (HIIT) workouts, and the only magic will be in how good it will make you feel! So let's HIIT it!

The human body needs movement to maintain optimal health. While the truth is that any movement is better than no movement, the intensity of that movement matters. Getting proper “high-intensity” movement has some specific benefits and can help you get the most out of your activity. The concept of intensity is subjective, as what is intense for one person may not be for the next. For this reason, intensity should be measured on an individual basis.

What is HIIT

The acronym HIIT stands for High-Intensity Interval Training. As the name suggests, it consists of short bursts of intense workouts mixed with intervals of rest or low-intensity workouts.

How Long Should a HIIT Workout Last

On average, you should have your workout last between 10 and 30 minutes. Don’t let the short duration fool you. Because of the nature of these workouts, it delivers double the benefits when compared to moderate exercise.

Heart Rate

When doing cardiovascular type exercise, intensity is measured by breathing and heart rate and how hard the activity feels (perceived exertion). The breathing and heart rate is a more objective measure of intensity, while perceived exertion is more subjective, but studies have shown that your perceived exertion tends to compare well with heart rate measures. This means that, generally speaking, if you feel like you’re working hard, your heart rate is up.

While the exact ideal heart rate range for intensity also varies based on gender, age, and other such factors, it’s good to know what your target heart rate range is, as exercise intensity is one of the most important elements of activity. Generally speaking, an intense or “vigorous” workout has a perceived exertion of 6 or higher (the perceived exertion scale is from 1-10).


When engaging in strength-based forms of exercise, intensity is generally measured by the number of sets, reps, and level of weight. The specifics of this depend on the age, gender, and ultimate goal. To be considered “intense” however, the perceived exertion level should be up. The amount of weight regardless of the number of sets and reps should feel challenging but do-able without loss of good form. Essentially, intensity here is defined by the effort required to complete the task.

Key Reasons Exercise Intensity is Important

According to the New York Times, “High-intensity exercise may be even better than regular aerobic activities for many patients with conditions like heart disease, diabetes, stroke, pulmonary disease, arthritis, and Parkinson’s disease.”

  • Burns more calories in less time
  • More efficient loss of excess fat tissue
  • Boosted metabolism
  • More efficient cardiovascular conditioning (healthier heart)
  • Increased stamina and endurance
  • More efficient increase in strength
  • Stronger bones and healthy bone mass levels
  • Better at helping regulate or lower high blood sugar
  • Effective at preventing &/or treating many health conditions (diabetes, arthritis, etc.)

How Often

While ensuring that you’re working at an appropriate intensity is important, it’s not necessary or even a good idea to work out at a high intensity every day. For the general American population, three days of “vigorous” exercise is recommended. It’s also advised to incorporate workouts or activity throughout the week at a variety of levels, as different intensity levels and various activities provide different benefits. Generally speaking though, many Americans don’t get near the recommended amount of “high intensity” or “vigorous” activity.

Amazing High-intensity Activities

  • HIIT training
  • Plyometrics
  • Interval/sprint training
  • Running
  • Cycling
  • Jumping rope
  • Battle ropes
  • Climbing stairs/hill walking
  • Speed walking

Something to consider when engaging in weight management habits is your diet. Sunwarrior has designed a line of products formulated specifically with your workout and weight management goals in mind. The Shape line has everything from fat-burning Burn to a Lean Superfood Shake to help you be the Shape you love best!

So, if you want to get more benefits in less time to your fitness and health, include more intensity to your activities (increase the perceived exertion &/or heart rate), whether they be strength or cardio based.

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