As an effective approach to achieving overall wellness and advancing preventive care, chiropractic has gained wide use among professional and amateur sports teams across the country. Three trends point to sports chiropractic as an exceptional way to provide value and enhance care:• Participation in high school and college sports is up, with experts predicting a 15-percent rise in employment of coaches and scouts by 2022.
• A growing number of professional and amateur athletes are seeking new strategies for gaining a competitive edge.
• As the baby boomer population ages, doctors of chiropractic (DCs) are treating more retirement- age patients who want to maintain their athletic ability by eliminating acute and chronic pain, increasing flexibility, enhancing strength and balance and improving overall quality of life.
Experts estimate that 90 percent of all world-class athletes use chiropractic care to prevent injuries and increase their performance potential. All National Football League (NFL) teams rely on DCs in varying capacities, and 77 percent of athletic trainers have referred players to a chiropractor for evaluation or treatment.
Treating Professional Athletes
Treating collegiate, Olympic and professional athletes has helped DCs gain wider recognition, creating a growing demand among younger athletes who benefit from chiropractic care in the areas of critical, acute and emergency care. This is important since the typical primary care physician lacks the education to deal with biomechanical and neuromusculoskeletal dysfunction.
Longevity on the playing field is critical: For every year a player remains competitive, millions of dollars may be earned. Professional athletes, coaches, athletic trainers and sports agents understand the consequences of disabling the pain mechanism and view chiropractic as essential for treating the cause of pain.
With professional sports highlighting its value, chiropractic is poised to become a mainstream option for improving sports performance and injury rehabilitation among athletes at every level.
Treating Young Athletes
More than 30 million children participate in organized sports in the United States, and approximately 775,000 children are treated in hospital emergency rooms for sports-related injuries. According to the Journal of Neurological Science, more sports-related, non-fatal injuries are treated in hospital emergency departments than any other type of unintentional injury. While traditional medicine treats fractures, dislocations, lacerations and damaged tendons and ligaments, many athletes leave the hospital with as much spinal stress as they had prior to care.
Younger athletes are more susceptible to injuries because they have slower reaction times than adults, are less coordinated, and are still growing and developing. Many injuries result from overuse, such as repetitive use syndrome, which comes from placing stress on the musculoskeletal system. It is caused by not using proper techniques or equipment, such as athletic shoes, which makes greater demands on the body with less healing time.
Injury Prevention/Performance Enhancement
Any DC who specializes in treating athletes should be prepared to treat the whole person, and tailor a comprehensive program aimed at injury avoidance. Initial evaluations should include not only traditional orthopedic tests, neurological examinations, and consideration to supplement physical exam findings with any additional diagnostic evaluations, if appropriate or a referral if indicated. Numerous studies support the fact that chiropractic care helps athletes achieve an optimal level of performance. A Canadian research team included chiropractic care in the rehabilitation program of 16 injured female long-distance runners. The runners recovered quickly; seven of them actually scored “personal best” performances while under chiropractic care, although there may be other contributing factors.
Chiropractic is beneficial to professional, amateur and weekend athletes, maximizing athletic performance and preventing and managing injuries. The growing reliance on chiropractic care among American professional sports teams has both raised awareness about the many benefits of chiropractic and helped many DCs apply and improve knowledge of biomechanical injuries and their treatment.
With growing awareness of the role of chiropractic care, practitioners will find themselves in community leadership roles, imparting a positive impact on student sports and expanding their skills to further affect athletic performance. They may be called upon to provide nutritional expertise and other approaches for enhancing pre-competition preparation, competition endurance and all aspects of injury prevention and care coordination.
Putting Sports Chiropractic into Practice
Besides having an interest in sports, becoming a successful sports DC requires:
Tailoring nutritional requirements, equipment and techniques to the needs of today’s athletes. This means augmenting traditional chiropractic care with soft-tissue treatment methods including instrument-assisted soft-tissue mobilization.
Obtaining credentials. A doctor of chiropractic does not need to add credentials such as the Certified Chiropractic Sports Physician credential or the advanced diplomate in sports, or the International Federation of Sports Chiropractic’s (FICS) international certified chiropractic sports physician (ICCSP) in order to be qualified to treat athletes. But, having these credentials conveys a higher level of knowledge and training in sports care.
Marketing sports capabilities to build a solid referral stream. The best approach is to forge solid working relationships with orthopedic surgeons, athletic trainers, physical therapists and other MDs who provide sports medicine services. Get involved in local, regional and national sports organizations and events, and issue press releases to local news outlets.
Kray Kibler, CFO, ScripHessco (www.ScripHessco.com), joined Scrip Companies in May 2006 as chief financial officer. In prior roles at Scrip, he oversaw the company’s financial, IT, human resource, customer service, distribution operations and field/corporate sales.
Spencer H. Baron, DC, DACBSP (www.drspencerbaron.com), is a health, sports fitness and medical expert, team chiropractic physician for the Miami Dolphins and a nationally acclaimed speaker and educator. Named the 2010 National Sports Chiropractor of the Year, he is author of Secrets of the Game: What Superstar Athletes Can Teach You About Health, Peak Performance and Getting Results, and co-founder of the Pro Football Chiropractic Society and POWER Play, LLC.
1. Bureau of Labor Statistics; Entertainment and Sports, Coaches and Scouts; Occupational Outlook Handbook; www.bls.gov/ooh/entertainment-and-sports/coaches-and-scouts.htm; accessed April 29, 2014.
2. Palmer Center for Natural Healing; Chiropractic Improves Athletic Performance; www.palmercenterfornaturalhealing.com/2011/chiropractic-improves-athletic-performance.html; accessed April 2, 2014.
4. Professional Football Chiropractic Society; Chiropractic in the NFL; www.profootballchiros.com/chiropractic-in-the-nfl/; accessed April 29, 2014.
5. Warner, Theresa, Warner, Stuart; ChiroEco.com; Kids, kickball and chiropractic: Child athletes need your help; www.chiroeco.com/chiropractic/news/3221/766/kids-kickball-and-chiropracticchild-athletes-need-your-help/; accessed April 29, 2014.
– Vitamin D is an unusual vitamin because it acts like a hormone in your body. It helps the bones absorb calcium, supports the immune system and may aid strength gain and fat loss.
– Vitamin D is made in the body when your skin absorbs ultraviolet light, but most people don’t get enough sunlight to reach adequate levels
– Deficiency of vitamin D is common, so consuming a D supplement may be beneficial
– The D3 version of the vitamin is absorbed better than D2, making it a wiser choice for supplementation
What Is Vitamin D?
While classified as a vitamin, D is unique among vitamins in a few different ways. For one thing, your body makes it itself when it’s exposed to sunlight. For another, it behaves like a steroid in the body (no, not that kind of steroid), meaning that it can turn genes on and off. This makes vitamin D an especially powerful nutrient with many potential influences on your health.
When your skin absorbs ultraviolet radiation, a cholesterol precursor in your body is converted to vitamin D3 (one type of D vitamin). However, it’s difficult for most people to get the amount of vitamin D they need from the sun alone. Fortunately, vitamin D is available in food, and many other foods are fortified with it. Nevertheless, vitamin D deficiency is common, and a serious threat to health (see Do I Have A Vitamin D Deficiency? below).
Vitamin D is fat soluble, meaning that it dissolves in fats and oils, and can be stored in the body for long periods. For years, scientists have known that Vitamin D promotes the absorption of calcium and phosphate from the food in your gut, making it a key supporter of bone health. More recently, D has also gotten credit for the role it plays in muscle strength and performance, nerve transmissions, and immune health.
How Do Vitamin D2 and D3 Differ?
There are two main kinds of vitamin D—D2 (ergocalciferol) and D3 (cholecalciferol). D2 is found in plant foods, including fungi like mushrooms and yeasts. D3 is only available in animal foods, and it’s the type of vitamin D your body makes on its own when it’s exposed to UV light.
D2 is inexpensive to produce, so it’s often added to foods—such as milk—to boost their vitamin D content. However, D2 is not as well absorbed by the body as D3. Some studies indicate that D3 may be almost twice as effective at raising levels of vitamin D in the blood as D2 (1, 2, 3). If you supplement with vitamin D to achieve optimal levels, nutrition experts generally recommend choosing vitamin D3 supplements.
According to an American Journal of Clinical Nutrition report, medical literature regarded D2 and D3 “as equivalent and interchangeable” for many years, “yet this presumption of equivalence is based on studies of rickets prevention in infants conducted 70 years ago…
Despite an emerging body of evidence suggesting several plausible explanations for the greater bioefficacy of vitamin D3, the form of vitamin D used in major preparations of prescriptions in North America is vitamin D2.”
In addition to failing to raise blood levels of the vitamin as well as D3, D2 also has a shorter shelf life. Therefore, the Journal concludes, D2 “should not be regarded as a nutrient suitable for supplementation or fortification.” However, some D2 supplements are oil-based, and may be more shelf-stable and bioavailable as a result. More research is needed to see how they compare to D3, but, in the meantime, D3 supps seem to be the smarter alternative.
What Does Vitamin D Do For the Body?
Due to vitamin D’s ability to act like a hormone in the body, it has the ability to support multiple aspects of health. While it’s long been known to help regulate bone health and growth, D has also been linked to the following.
A 2015 meta-analysis of seven studies found that vitamin D supplementation significantly aided gains in upper- and lower-limb strength. The subjects ranged from 18 to 40 years of age.
A 2014 study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition followed overweight and obese women on a diet and exercise routine for one year. Half the subjects received a vitamin D supplement, and the other half a placebo. Researchers found that the ones who got up to healthy vitamin D levels lost more weight than the placebo group—by an average of seven pounds.
Meanwhile, another study in Nutrition Journal showed that women who took vitamin D for 12 weeks didn’t lose weight, but their body fat percentages did go down, indicating that D may have helped with recomposition.
Innate immunity is the term used to describe the body’s general defense mechanisms—the ones that turn on when it senses that an unwelcome invader has entered your system. Barriers, such as the skin, and white blood cells—the body’s soldiers in the war against a pathogen—are examples of your innate immune defenses.
Adaptive immunity refers to the immune responses that are specific to a particular antigen (any foreign substance your body wants to get rid of). These include the antibodies you develop when you’re recovering from a cold, so that the same virus doesn’t make you sick again in the future.
Vitamin D has been shown to help modulate both innate and adaptive immune responses (The Journal of Investigative Medicine), supporting a strong immune system. In 2017, a review published in the British Journal of Medicine analyzed 11,321 people from 14 different countries. It concluded that vitamin D supplementation helped promote immunity in both subjects who were deficient in the vitamin, as well as those who had healthy levels.
At the same time, a lack of D in the diet can wreak havoc on health.
One study published in Archives of Internal Medicine followed 19,000 subjects for six years. Those with lower vitamin D levels were more likely to report upper respiratory health issues than those who were getting sufficient D. Meanwhile, a review in the Journal of Investigative Medicine explains that a D deficiency is associated with increased susceptibility to health issues.
Do I Have A Vitamin D Deficiency?
Most people living in first-world countries don’t have many vitamin deficiencies. We can get most of the nutrients we need through food alone, and many foods have vitamins added to them to ensure that we get enough. Vitamin D deficiency, however, is still rampant, even among otherwise healthy people.
The main reason why is lack of sun exposure. Contrary to what you might think, just walking around outside on a sunny day usually isn’t enough, even if you live on a tropical island. Clouds and shade dramatically cut down on ultraviolet light—the stuff that your skin needs to produce vitamin D—and window glass blocks it completely. Furthermore, the National Institutes of Health explain that wearing sunscreen with an SPF of eight or more won’t allow your body to absorb enough light to make D, although it’s obviously important to use some anyway to avoid sunburn and long-term skin damage.
Ethnicity also plays a factor. Melanin is a pigment that darkens the skin, but it also reduces the skin’s ability to absorb vitamin D. African Americans and Hispanics typically have more melanin than white people, so they tend to be more deficient.
A Nutrition Research study concluded that more than 41% of Americans are deficient in vitamin D. African Americans and Hispanics are most at risk, as 82% and 69% are deficient, respectively. The study went on to say that, “deficiency was significantly more common among those who had no college education, were obese, with a poor health status, hypertension, low [HDL] cholesterol level, or not consuming milk daily.”
Looking more closely at obese populations, the National Institutes of Health observe that “obesity does not affect skin’s capacity to synthesize vitamin D, but greater amounts of subcutaneous fat sequester more of the vitamin and alter its release into the circulation.” Even if an obese person gets bypass surgery to aid weight loss, his/her vitamin D levels will still be suspect, as the part of the small intestine that absorbs D is bypassed.
Senior citizens are also in jeopardy. A trial in the American Journal of Geriatric Pharmacotherapy stated that elderly subjects had insufficient D levels, “despite vitamin D intake consistent with national recommendations.”
Just what the recommended D dose should be is a subject of great debate. The current Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for vitamin D is 15 micrograms, or 600 IU, for people up to age 70. (Folks older than that need 20 micrograms, or 800 IU.) A serving or two of fatty fish, such as salmon or trout, should have it covered. However, these recs might be very optimistic. A review of vitamin D studies in Nutrients accuses the current RDA of being flat out inaccurate because of an error in math. It concludes that, “With the current recommendation of 600 IU, bone health objectives and disease and injury prevention targets will not be met.” The appropriate IU, the researchers assert, may be many times more than what is currently advised.
Evidence published in Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology agrees, suggesting that significantly higher doses, such as a minimum of 25 micrograms/1000 IU of D is more appropriate. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism also explains that at least 1,500–2,000 IU per day may be necessary for adults, and at least 1,000 IU for children and teens. The Linus Pauling Institute echoes these numbers as well.
If reading all this has sent you scrambling to the cabinet for your multivitamins, your next question may be, “how much vitamin D is too much?” The National Institutes of Health say you can probably get as much as 100 micrograms/4,000 IU before you see side effects, which may include nausea, poor appetite, weakness, and weight loss. Vitamin D toxicity is rare, however, and it mainly comes from overuse of vitamin supplements. (You can’t get too much D from the sun, as your body will shut down production before then.) One review showed that there were no health risks associated with consuming 1,800–4,000 IU of D daily.
Whatever the optimal D dose may be, it seems fair to assume that we should all get our levels tested and, if low, aim to take in more. An article in the Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary & Alternative Medicine calls vitamin D deficiency “pandemic,” noting that health organizations worldwide are refocusing on the importance of D due to the discovery that “vitamin D receptors are present in nearly every tissue and cell in the body and that adequate vitamin D status is essential for optimal functioning of these tissues and cells.” It concludes that it is “imperative that all individuals be encouraged to obtain vitamin D from either sunlight or supplementation.”
What Are The Best Sources of Vitamin D?
It’s hard to get enough vitamin D from sunshine, but it’s even harder to get it from food—at least the way most people eat. The best source of dietary D is from fish livers, such as cod liver oil, but now ask yourself… when was the last time you ate cod liver oil?
Mackerel, salmon, sardines, swordfish, trout, and tuna all offer D, as do mushrooms and eggs. If you eat them regularly, you’ll meet the government-recommended requirement, but if you’re in the camp that thinks 600 IU is too low, you’ll need to be more aggressive to hit your D goals. Dairy products and cereals are fortified with vitamin D, which helps, but one review, and Harvard University, determined that supplementation with a multivitamin or concentrated vitamin D capsule provides a better insurance policy.
Of course, you shouldn’t completely avoid the sun. According to a report in Alternative Medicine Review, “the health benefits accruing from moderate UV irradiation, without erythema [reddening of the skin] or excess tanning, greatly outweigh the health risks, with skin pigmentation (melanin) providing much of the protection.”
The National Institutes of Health note that getting five to 30 minutes of sun on the face, arms, back, or legs—without sunscreen and between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. at least twice a week—is usually enough to promote sufficient vitamin D synthesis in the skin. However, sun exposure, especially at these hours, can be difficult to get, and particularly during winter time, or during work weeks with a busy schedule. This is why scientists frequently recommend supplementation.
Why Take Vitamin D and K?
Vitamin K has similarities with vitamin D. It’s fat-soluble, found in egg yolks and liver, as well as some plant foods, and, like vitamin D, it assists calcium in promoting strong bones. K works with D to make sure calcium gets where it needs to go without causing a problem.
Here’s what we mean: your blood levels of calcium need to stay at a certain level. When you don’t get enough calcium from your diet, one of vitamin D’s functions is to take it from your bones and move it into your bloodstream. Obviously, this isn’t ideal, but if you generally get enough calcium in your diet, it isn’t cause for concern.
While D takes calcium from your bones, it doesn’t control where it ends up in the body. Vitamin K steps in as a protective measure, seeing that the calcium doesn’t accumulate in places that could be dangerous, such as the blood vessels or kidneys. For this reason, some people believe that any vitamin D you take should be supplemented with vitamin K. In cases where vitamin D intake was too high, some subjects ended up with too much calcium in their blood, suggesting that, if taken, vitamin K might have helped to regulate the buildup and prevent the problem.
But to date, there’s no compelling evidence to show that any of the aforementioned recommended doses of vitamin D are harmful with or without vitamin K in tow. If it turns out that the two should be taken together, however, chances are that you’re already covered. Unlike vitamin D, vitamin K is available in large amounts in many commonly eaten foods, such as spinach, parsley, kale, and soft cheeses. And because K is fat-soluble, it will last in your body a while after each serving.
One major advantage that kettlebells have over dumbbells is that you don’t need a wide range of weight increments to create a workout with them. One 16 kilo weight if you’re a man, or 8 kilo if you’re a woman, will get it done for most people. The following workout requires just one kettlebell and works the entire body. Note that, unlike what you see in most kettlebell workouts, we’re not having you do the Turkish getup and full swing—even though we’re well aware that they’re two of the most popular kettlebell exercises. Rather, we’ve modified these exercises to more user-friendly—but still supremely challenging—versions that will allow someone of any experience level to train safely and with optimal form.
Use this routine to build strength and burn fat now, and develop the requisite stability and mobility to graduate to more advanced exercises at a later date.
Perform the exercises as a circuit, completing one set of each in sequence without rest in between. When you’ve completed the entire circuit, rest 1–2 minutes, and then repeat for 3 total rounds.
Duration 20-25 minutes
Frequency 1-2x per week
Exercise strength training
Rest 1-2 minutes
Hold the kettlebell by its horns and drive your shoulder blades together and downward so your chest is open (think “proud chest”). Tuck your elbows in so your forearms are vertical.
Stand with feet a bit wider than hip-width apart with feet turned out slightly. Take a deep breath into your belly and twist your feet into the ground (imagine screwing them down without actually moving them) and squat, keeping your torso upright. Go as low as you can without your tailbone tucking under your butt.
2. Kettlebell One-Arm Row
Reps: 8 (each side)
Place the kettlebell on the floor and take a staggered stance with your right foot in front. Your foot should be planted just outside the weight. Dig the ball of your left foot into the floor behind you and bend your hips so your torso is angled about 45 degrees to the floor. Rest your right elbow on your right thigh for support and reach for the kettlebell with your left hand. Keeping your shoulders square, complete all your reps on one side and then repeat on the other side.
3. Kettlebell One-Arm Press
Reps: 5 (each side)
Stand tall holding the kettlebell in one hand at shoulder level. Root your feet into the floor as if you were preparing for someone to push you. Take a deep breath into your belly and brace your abs and glutes. Pull your ribs down and think “proud chest.”
Press the weight overhead with a vertical forearm. Note that your chin should be pulled back so that weight has no trouble clearing it. To lower the kettlebell, pull it back down into position—as if you were performing a pullup. Complete all your reps on one side and then repeat on the other side.
TIP: “Don’t get fixated on achieving a full overhead lockout right away,” says John Wolf, Onnit’s Chief Fitness Officer. “Just going to where your elbow is bent 90 degrees and holding it isometrically is a ton of work for most people.” If you need to arch your back, causing your ribs to flare in order to lock out your arm overhead, you’re not training the shoulder effectively. In that case, you may need to regress the movement to a floor press—lie down on the floor with your triceps against it and press upward from there (think of it as a bench press with a shortened range of motion).
4. Kettlebell Chest-Loaded Swing
Stand with feet between hip and shoulder-width apart and hold the kettlebell by its horns, pulling the bottom of the bell into your lower sternum. Draw your shoulder blades together and down (“proud chest”) and cast your eyes on a spot on the floor approximately 15 feet in front of you.
Take a deep breath and root your feet. Then bend your hips back, imagining being able to touch your butt to the wall behind you. Keep a long spine with your tailbone tilted slightly up. When you feel a stretch in your hamstrings, extend your hips and squeeze your glutes, tucking your tailbone under as you lock out.
5. Kettlebell Shoulder Halo
Reps: 8 (each direction)
Stand with feet between hip and shoulder-width apart and hold the kettlebell by its horns upside down—the bell should face up. Screw your feet into the floor and draw your ribs down. Think “proud chest.”
Begin moving the kettlebell around your head, being careful to maintain your posture and not bend your torso in any direction. Move slowly to avoid whacking yourself in the head. Make full circles and alternate directions on each rep.
6. Kettlebell Hip Halo
Reps: 8 (each direction)
Set up as you did for the shoulder halo but hold the kettlebell by the handle at arm’s length and make circles around your hips. Hand the kettlebell off from one hand to the other. Perform eight reps in one direction and then repeat in the opposite direction.
7. Kettlebell Around the Leg Pass
Reps: 5 (each direction)
Perform halos as you did around the hips but with your hips bent back so you move the weight around one knee at a time. Keep a proud chest—ribs down with a long spine. Perform five reps in one direction and then repeat in the opposite direction. Switch legs and repeat.
8. Kettlebell Chest-Loaded Swing
Repeat the swings as described above.
9. Kettlebell Single-Arm Squat to Press
Reps: 8 (each side)
Hold the kettlebell with one hand at shoulder level. Tuck your elbow in so your forearm is vertical. Perform a squat as described above, and then come up and press overhead.
10. Kettlebell Chest-Loaded Swing
Repeat the swing a final time.
While most people know that physical activity is healthy, it's estimated that about 30% of people worldwide don't get enough. Unless you have a physically demanding job, a dedicated fitness routine is likely your best bet for getting active. Unfortunately, many people feel that they don't have enough time to exercise If this sounds like you, maybe it's time to try high-intensity interval training (HIIT).
1. HIIT Can Burn a Lot of Calories in a Short Amount of Time
You can burn calories quickly using HIIT. One study compared the calories burned during 30 minutes each of HIIT, weight training, running and biking. The researchers found that HIIT burned 25–30% more calories than the other forms of exercise. In this study, a HIIT repetition consisted of 20 seconds of maximal effort, followed by 40 seconds of rest. This means that the participants were actually only exercising for 1/3 of the time that the running and biking groups were. Although each workout session was 30 minutes long in this study, it is common for HIIT workouts to be much shorter than traditional exercise sessions. This is because HIIT allows you to burn about the same amount of calories, but spend less time exercising.
2. Your Metabolic Rate Is Higher for Hours After Exercise
One of the ways HIIT helps you burn calories actually comes after you are done exercising.
Several studies have demonstrated HIIT's impressive ability to increase your metabolic rate for hours after exercise. Some researchers have even found that HIIT increases your metabolism after exercise more so than jogging and weight training. In the same study, HIIT was also found to shift the body's metabolism toward using fat for energy rather than carbs. Another study showed that just two minutes of HIIT in the form of sprints increased metabolism over 24 hours as much as 30 minutes of running.
3. It Can Help You Lose Fat
Studies have shown that HIIT can help you lose fat.
One review looked at 13 experiments and 424 overweight and obese adults.
Interestingly, it found that both HIIT and traditional moderate-intensity exercise can reduce body fat and waist circumference. Additionally, one study found that people performing HIIT three times per week for 20 minutes per session lost 4.4 pounds, or 2 kgs, of body fat in 12 weeks — without any dietary changes. Perhaps more important was the 17% reduction in visceral fat, or the disease-promoting fat surrounding your internal organs. Several other studies also indicate that body fat can be reduced with HIIT, despite the relatively low time commitment. However, like other forms of exercise, HIIT may be most effective for fat loss in those who are overweight or obese.
4. You Might Gain Muscle Using HIIT
In addition to helping with fat loss, HIIT could help increase muscle mass in certain individuals . However, the gain in muscle mass is primarily in the muscles being used the most, often the trunk and legs. Additionally, it's important to note that increases in muscle mass are more likely to occur in individuals who were less active to begin with. Some research in active individuals has failed to show higher muscle mass after HIIT programs. Weight training continues to be the "gold standard" form of exercise to increase muscle mass, but high-intensity intervals could support a small amount of muscle growth.
5. HIIT Can Improve Oxygen Consumption
Oxygen consumption refers to your muscles' ability to use oxygen, and endurance training is typically used to improve your oxygen consumption. Traditionally, this consists of long sessions of continuous running or cycling at a steady rate. However, it appears that HIIT can produce the same benefits in a shorter amount of time. One study found that five weeks of HIIT workouts performed four days per week for 20 minutes each session improved oxygen consumption by 9%. This was almost identical to the improvement in oxygen consumption in the other group in the study, who cycled continuously for 40 minutes per day, four days per week. Another study found that eight weeks of exercising on the stationary bike using traditional exercise or HIIT increased oxygen consumption by about 25%. Once again, the total time exercising was much different between groups: 120 minutes per week for the traditional exercise versus only 60 minutes per week of HIIT. Additional studies also demonstrate that HIIT can improve oxygen consumption.
6. It Can Reduce Heart Rate and Blood Pressure
HIIT may have important health benefits, as well. A large amount of research indicates that it can reduce heart rate and blood pressure in overweight and obese individuals, who often have high blood pressure.One study found that eight weeks of HIIT on a stationary bike decreased blood pressure as much as traditional continuous endurance training in adults with high blood pressure. In this study, the endurance training group exercised four days per week for 30 minutes per day, but the HIIT group only exercised three times per week for 20 minutes per day.Some researchers have found that HIIT may even reduce blood pressure more than the frequently recommended moderate-intensity exercise. However, it appears that high-intensity exercise does not typically change blood pressure in normal-weight individuals with normal blood pressure.
7. Blood Sugar Can Be Reduced by HIIT
Blood sugar can be reduced by HIIT programs lasting less than 12 weeks. A summary of 50 different studies found that not only does HIIT reduce blood sugar, but it also improves insulin resistance more than traditional continuous exercise.Based on this information, it is possible that high-intensity exercise is particularly beneficial for those at risk for type 2 diabetes. In fact, some experiments specifically in individuals with type 2 diabetes have demonstrated the effectiveness of HIIT for improving blood sugar. However, research in healthy individuals indicates that HIIT may be able to improve insulin resistance even more than traditional continuous exercise.