Evidence based exercise - clinical benefits of high intensity interval training

Aust Fam Physician. 2012 Dec;41(12):960-2.


Background: Aerobic exercise has a marked impact on cardiovascular disease risk. Benefits include improved serum lipid profiles, blood pressure and inflammatory markers as well as reduced risk of stroke, acute coronary syndrome and overall cardiovascular mortality. Most exercise programs prescribed for fat reduction involve continuous, moderate aerobic exercise, as per Australian Heart Foundation clinical guidelines.

Objective: This article describes the benefits of exercise for patients with cardiovascular and metabolic disease and details the numerous benefits of high intensity interval training (HIIT) in particular.

Discussion: Aerobic exercise has numerous benefits for high-risk populations and such benefits, especially weight loss, are amplified with HIIT. High intensity interval training involves repeatedly exercising at a high intensity for 30 seconds to several minutes, separated by 1-5 minutes of recovery (either no or low intensity exercise). HIT is associated with increased patient compliance and improved cardiovascular and metabolic outcomes and is suitable for implementation in both healthy and 'at risk' populations. Importantly, as some types of exercise are contraindicated in certain patient populations and HIIT is a complex concept for those unfamiliar to exercise, some patients may require specific assessment or instruction before commencing a HIIT program.

MeSH terms

  • Cardiovascular Diseases / therapy*
  • Exercise
  • Exercise Therapy / methods*
  • Humans
  • Metabolic Syndrome / therapy*
  • Obesity / therapy*
  • Weight Reduction Programs / methods