Bringing high-intensity interval training into the workplace

Fall is a season of new beginnings. It’s a time when many workplaces introduce, or re-launch, weekly group exercise classes to get employees motivated to stay healthy. One of the most effective approaches, which is growing in popularity, is high-intensity interval training.

An HIIT workout is all out, with 100 per cent effort through fast, intensive bursts of exercise, followed by shorter, sometimes active, recovery periods. Training in this way increases heart rate and keeps it high while burning more fat in less time than a typical workout. It’s efficient and effective — perfect for workplace wellness.

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HIIT is a cardio workout, strength workout and interval training all rolled into one. It’s a high intensity, bodyweight-only workout that works your upper body, lower body and core at the same time.

While using weight training equipment provides more options to exercise and build real strength, bodyweight-only HIIT workouts are a great approach where someone is looking to get healthy, lose weight, boost their general health and fitness and tone up a little. Bodyweight HIIT workouts are ideal for workplace exercise — either individually or in a group fitness class.

Here are some of the benefits of HIIT workouts when it comes to workplace wellness:

  • Employees can work out from anywhere — home, work, the gym, a hotel room, on the beach, etc.
  • No equipment is required.
  • High intensity cardio workouts are great for the heart, since HIIT improves the elasticity and flexibility of veins and arteries more than regular aerobic exercise.
  • Workout time is reduced — 20 to 30 minutes is all that’s needed.
  • People burn calories even after the workout is complete. HIIT speeds the metabolic rate, which means a metabolism boost for up to 48 hours post-workout.
  • HIIT burns fat, not muscle. Shorter, high intensity sessions result in greater fat loss over time than longer, low-intensity sessions.

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It’s best to try to do a 20- or 30-minute HIIT workout three or four times each week (depending on the level of fitness) to start seeing and feeling results in optimal time. Employees will have to combine this with healthy eating since no one can out exercise a bad diet.

It’s also encouraging to know that as little as 20-to-30 minutes of intense physical activity can have a profound, positive impact on mental well-being. It can help reduce the stresses of common work complaints, such as time limites, 24-7 access through technology and longer commutes.

For employers that are considering designing an HIIT workout for the workplace, it’s best to speak with a fitness professional who can design and demonstrate a safe routine for employees’ current level of fitness and an employer’s available space. HIIT training can be designed for the novice, intermediate or athlete level of conditioning.

So what are you waiting for? Push away from the desk and HIIT some exercise.