By Suzanne Boothby
Sometimes slower really is better. While you might be familiar with HIIT (high intensity interval training), there’s a less intense version getting attention these days in the fitness world and outshining those sweaty, intense sessions.
LIIT (low intensity interval training) is less vigorous workout than HIIT that still has intervals of exertion and rest. For example, a LIIT workout might be a 90-second jog on a treadmill with three to five of recovery afterward. You can repeat this for 30 to 45 minutes.
Many fitness experts call LIIT a more beginner-friendly option and a better choice for those who have been on an exercise hiatus (especially if you have had an injury) and want to ease back into a routine.
Working out at very high intensity for long periods can actually put strain on your immune system, so low intensity training can be helpful if you want to move your body but are also dealing with a chronic condition.
About half of all American adults have at least one preventable chronic disease and many of the most common chronic diseases can see improvements with regular physical activity, according to the latest Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.
“Regular physical activity is one of the most important things people can do to improve their health,” wrote Alex M. Azar II, U. S. Secretary of Health and Human Services in the Physical Activity Guidelines report. “Moving more and sitting less have tremendous benefits for everyone, regardless of age, sex, race, ethnicity, or current fitness level. The scientific evidence continues to build—physical activity is linked with even more positive health outcomes than we previously thought.”
While HIIT is known as a great calorie burner in less time, low intensity exercise can be just as effective. Researchers from Ontario’s School of Kinesiology and Health Studies at Queen’s University found that people who regularly did LIIT exercises saw similar weight loss results to those who were performing HIIT.
Scientists have also confirmed that switching your speed while walking burns up to 20 percent more calories than keeping a steady pace.
Another study found that low intensity exercise can help older people feel physically stronger while boosting their cognitive health too. These researchers concluded that low intensity exercise has better compliance, lower risk of injuries and offers long-term sustainability.
A low intensity workout can also help re-balance your posture, strengthen your core and tone your entire body.
You can easily modify any workout to be more LIIT-friendly. Walking, jogging, cycling, swimming or rowing can become LIIT workouts. Start at a faster pace than usual for 90 second to two minutes, and then recover for up to five minutes at a slower pace.
Weight training can be done with lighter weights, more reps and longer rest periods between sets. For example, if you normally use 10-pound weights for 10 reps, use 5-pound weights for 20 reps. The key is to fully feel the resistance and then take plenty of time to rest. You are still working, but at a more sustainable pace.
Whether you choose to HIIT, LIIT or some other form of exercise, physical activity has tons of health benefits that include better mood, sleep and even clearer thinking.
And don’t forget to make a juice either pre- or post-workout, as fresh juice can help you stay hydrated and help support muscle development and strength.