Is high-intensity interval training a time-efficient exercise strategy to improve health and fitness?

Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2014 Mar;39(3):409-12. doi: 10.1139/apnm-2013-0187. Epub 2013 Sep 27.


Growing research suggests that high-intensity interval training (HIIT) is a time-efficient exercise strategy to improve cardiorespiratory and metabolic health. "All out" HIIT models such as Wingate-type exercise are particularly effective, but this type of training may not be safe, tolerable or practical for many individuals. Recent studies, however, have revealed the potential for other models of HIIT, which may be more feasible but are still time-efficient, to stimulate adaptations similar to more demanding low-volume HIIT models and high-volume endurance-type training. As little as 3 HIIT sessions per week, involving ≤10 min of intense exercise within a time commitment of ≤30 min per session, including warm-up, recovery between intervals and cool down, has been shown to improve aerobic capacity, skeletal muscle oxidative capacity, exercise tolerance and markers of disease risk after only a few weeks in both healthy individuals and people with cardiometabolic disorders. Additional research is warranted, as studies conducted have been relatively short-term, with a limited number of measurements performed on small groups of subjects. However, given that "lack of time" remains one of the most commonly cited barriers to regular exercise participation, low-volume HIIT is a time-efficient exercise strategy that warrants consideration by health practitioners and fitness professionals.

MeSH terms

  • Exercise*
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Physical Fitness / physiology*
  • Time Factors