HIIT training is time-efficient and fashionable but a new study suggests moderate exercise may have the edge when it comes to lowering blood pressure.
The study, published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, found that frequent, almost-daily moderate exercise is better at improving blood pressure and ongoing blood-sugar control than infrequent, high-intensity intervals. So, if metabolic health is your primary aim rather than, say, a new 5K PB, aim for two and a half hours of easy running a week (30 minutes, five times a week).
The moderate approach is broadly similar to the 80/20 method, which recommends that 80 per cent of your overall training volume should be low-intensity, while the other 20 per cent should be high-intensity. However, with HIIT becoming ever more popular among runners and non-runners alike, lots of people’s weekly schedules may now be looking more like the reverse of the 80/20 method.
To find out the effects of this, the researchers had participants either perform three HIIT sessions a week and nothing else, or ride a bike at moderate intensity for 30-40 minutes five times a week. At the end of the six weeks, all participants got fitter – but only the moderates had shed much body fat, improved their blood pressures or become better at metabolising fat.
Sometimes, it would appear, slow and steady really does win the race.
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