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How interval training works to boost health

Interval training, or high intensity interval training (HIIT), is a way to pack the health benefits of exercise into a short amount of time. No matter what your fitness level. In this episode of NewsMD's "Health Fusion," Viv Williams talks to a Mayo Clinic exercise expert about why intervals are so effective.

Interval training
High intensity interval training involves a series of short bursts of exercise followed by short periods of low-intensity exercise or rest. Fotolia
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ROCHESTER — High intensity interval training (HIIT) is all the rage right now and with good reason.

"Interval training is a form of exercise training," says Dr. Michael Joyner , an anesthesiologist and exercise physiologist at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. "It is a period of harder effort interspersed with a period of easier effort."

Think brisk walking followed by strolling or running followed by walking or jogging.

"It's good for you because it's a very time efficient way to train," says Joyner. "And the high intensity part of the exercise really pushed your heart, your blood vessels and your muscles to make even more healthy adaptation to exercise training."

What are those healthy adaptations? Dr. Joyner says interval training causes healthy stress on your heart that makes it stronger. Plus, when the heart beats faster during the periods of hard effort, your blood vessels get stronger as do your muscles.


Interval training is beneficial for people of all fitness levels. For example, beginners can start at 15 seconds per interval and work up from there. But check with your healthcare provider to make sure you know what's safe for you.


Follow the  Health Fusion podcast on  Apple,   Spotify and  Google podcasts. For comments or other podcast episode ideas, email Viv Williams at  vwilliams@newsmd.com. Or on Twitter/Instagram/FB @vivwilliamstv.

Do you get a little bit cranky after a sleepless night? In this "Health Fusion" column, Viv Williams explores how sleep deprivation can do a lot more damage than just messing with your mornings. It may also make people less willing to help each other.

Opinion by Viv Williams
Viv Williams hosts the NewsMD podcast and column, "Health Fusion." She is an Emmy (and other) award-winning health and medical reporter whose stories have run on TV, digital and newspaper outlets nationwide. Viv is passionate about boosting people's health and happiness by helping them access credible, reliable and research-based health information from top experts. She regularly interviews experts and patients from leading medical institutions, such as Mayo Clinic.
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