How to Sneak in “Accidental” HIIT Workouts to Boost Your Metabolism

Businessman trying to catch the train
Businessman trying to catch the train Geber86 / Getty Images

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) has its perks. It’s an express workout, plus there are the big cardiac and metabolism benefits.

Turns out it doesn’t take treadmill intervals to get it done. Researchers have hit upon a twist: High-Intensity Incidental Physical Activity. That’s when everyday physical activities cause heart rates to spike, as well as breathlessness—think running down a bus or train, sprinting up stairs, or doing yard work extra-fast.

According to the new U.S. Physical Activity Guidelines, any moderate to vigorous exercise, for 30 seconds or a few minutes, can boost heart health if done several times during the day.

The key is high-intensity, meaning working at 80 percent or more of max capacity. You’ll know you’re in the zone when you feel an uncomfortable shortness of breath, you can’t have a conversation, and possibly get your quads burning if you’re running or climbing.

It’s an effort you can’t sustain for very long, which, fortunately, you don’t have to. Sneak in quick HIIT workouts at work by bounding up some stairs, as well as during your commute. Bike home and work in some sprints, or pack sneakers and workout apparel to get some quick bursts as you walk.

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