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HIIT Exercise

HIIT-style workouts are getting a lot of press. HIIT stands for high-intensity interval training and can come in different forms. Maybe you have heard of Tabata, interval, or circuit training? But what exactly is it, and why is it beneficial? HIIT exercise is a short burst of maximal intensity (80 to 90% effort) with a short duration of recovery time. This exercise style does not need to be an hour-long class. Most HIIT classes are twenty to thirty minutes long. A HIIT-style workout can be done anywhere, anytime, with minimal equipment. Some benefits of HIIT style workout are

  • Time: Easy to fit in a 20 min workout instead of 60 minutes.

  • Body: Heart-healthy and great for your lungs by improving your oxygen consumption.

  • Mind: Show to develop brain cells and increased nerve production

  • Weight loss: Research finds that you can burn 25-30 % more calories in a shorter amount of time and burn more calories at rest throughout the day.

  • Balance: Quick movements improve your reaction time and improve your balance.

HIIT style training is excellent for many types of people, different fitness levels, and multiple diagnoses. Because of its significant cardiovascular benefits, it is beneficial for those with heart disease and type 2 diabetes. HIIT-style workouts are also great for your brain health. It has proven to decrease your risk of dementia by creating new blood vessels and developing cells in your brain. High-intensity training has proven excellent at managing Parkinson's disease by creating new nerve pathways and brain cells. Additional benefits include improved muscle control, enhanced cognition, improved balance, decreased stiffness, improved reaction time, and improved neuroplasticity.

Neuroplasticity is a change in the brain's structure and decrease of brain cell degeneration. This is why you will find cycling and boxing classes to be so beneficial to the Parkinson's community.

So how do you incorporate HIIT style into your workout? Any workout can be modified into a high-intensity workout by changing the timing and exertion. HIIT typically alternates 20-second maximum exertion intervals (at least 80-90% exertion)with 10 seconds of rest. You can change the timing to suit your needs. Maybe you do 45 seconds at 80-90% exertion and rest for 15 seconds. If you are on the treadmill, add in some high-intensity rounds. Push yourself for 20 seconds and rest for 10 sec. Begining a HIIT-style workout can be intense, so you can start with 30-second pushes and 30-second rest. Eventually, you can increase the time of your push and decrease your rest times. You can do the same with walking outside. Push hard to one mailbox, then walk slowly to the next mailbox. It will decrease your walking time but increase your results. If you do not have cardio equipment, no biggie. You can do a HIIT-style workout using jumping jacks, squats, jumps, lunges, and/or high knees. Not ready for a full 10-20 minute HIIT workout? Tabata may suit your needs. Choose one or two exercises and give it your max effort for 20 seconds, resting for 10 seconds for eight rounds. That is just 4 minutes of exercise total! Because of the high-intensity push of HIIT-style workouts, you should limit these workouts to 2-3 times per week. This will give your body plenty of recovery time in between. In the days between, be sure to add strengthening exercises. This will keep your body, heart, lungs, and bones happy and healthy.

HIIT training is not for everyone! There is much debate on who should and who should not be doing HIIT training. HIIT may not be beneficial for those who are immune are compromised. Placing additional stress on your body is not always the best answer to your long-term health. Osteoporosis is considered a contraindication of HIIT training. This controversy is because HIIT training is quick, can include plyometrics (jumping), and can increase your risk of falls, leading to increased fracture risk. Those who have pelvic floor weakness, 3-6 months postpartum, or those currently pregnant should not participate in HIIT style training. It is essential in any exercise program to modify the types of exercises you do dependent on your health history, fitness level, and current goals. There are many ways to modify your exercise programs to continue to get the same great benefits but prevent injury. It is worth the time and money to have a trained professional guide you in an appropriate fitness program.

Wellness 360 is a great way to manage your diagnosis and meet your goals with the supervision of healthcare professionals. We offer High-intensity classes specific to Parkinson's disease, including Rock steady boxing, virtual boxing, Parkinson's cycle, and more. We offer physical therapy, massage therapy, group fitness classes, and individualized wellness plans to meet the needs of most diagnoses. We also have an ON-Demand program offering great evidence-based exercises for disease management. Wellness 360 is one-stop shopping for your fitness needs! For more information, please check us out at



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