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Evidence for the use of HIIT in patients with Chronic Disease

What is HIIT? Why is it so popular? And can it benefit you?

If you’re someone who follows the fitness and rehabilitation world, you’ve most likely come across the term ‘HIIT’ once or twice in your browsing or research. You may or may not know exactly what this means and why it is so popular.

For anyone who doesn’t know HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training! Now anyone can go and throw around the word term HIIT, however do you actually know what this means in regards to training intensity and dose?

High Intensity Exercise is defined as exercise performed at either;

  • >9 METs

  • 90% Heart Rate Max

  • 85% Heart Rate Reserve

  • >85% VO2 Max, or

  • RPE (Rate of Perceived Exertion) >7 or >17 (Borg)


...and generally cannot be performed for longer than 10 minutes.

This form of exercise has generally been questioned regards to its safety and efficacy for individuals who present with Chronic Disease or cardiometabolic risk factors, however research suggests the risk vs reward when it comes to HIIT and Chronic Disease may be in HIIT’s favour.

**Please note, the below information is based on clinically supervised and monitored HIIT, delivered by Accredited Exercise Physiologists. Please seek Medical Clearance and guidance from an Accredited Exercise Physiologist prior to exercise participation.

HIIT training is proven to be superior to Moderate Intensity Continuous Training (MICR) in improving VO2 Max in individuals with High Blood Pressure, Cardiometabolic Disease, Type 2 Diabetes, Hyperlipidaemia, Coronary Artery Disease and Heart Failure. Increase VO2 is linked to overall greater survival time (lifespan) and improved ability to perform activities of daily living and improved quality of life.

In support of this, research shows us that there are insufficient numbers of documented adverse cardiac events to compare the relative safety of HIIT vs MICE which probably means we should not consider either to be prohibitively dangerous.

Additionally, research suggests that HIIT, when compared to MICE results in greater self reported enjoyment and adherence. Possibly due to its variability and shorter time commitment, people are more likely to sustain a program involving HIIT training which is important because exercise shouldn’t be a chore and should be enjoyable for everyone!

1 in 5 Australians live with Chronic Disease and could potentially benefit from supervised HIIT training. If you’re living with any of the conditions listed above and would like some guidance in regards to appropriate exercise rehabilitation, see your GP for a referral to your local Exercise Physiologist or feel free to contact with us here at Vitality Health and Rehab!




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