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The Pros and Cons of High Impact Exercise

woman doing push-upsHigh impact exercises can be intimidating even for someone who is in relatively good shape. Yet, people pursuing fitness are increasingly opting for this form of exercise over steady, low impact workouts. Since it can be hard to keep up with intense workouts for long periods without giving into fatigue, most high impact fitness routines alternate with periods of rest or low impact exercise. This has given rise to what is popularly known as High Intensity Interval Training (or HIIT in short). So, is this workout method right for you? To help you answer this question, let’s have a look at the pros and cons of high impact exercise. 3222


Cuts Workout Time in Half

High intensity workouts push the body to fatigue a lot faster. As a result, these workouts tend to be short, usually lasting 15-20 minutes at most. This makes them ideal for people who have busy schedules or during days when you want to create extra time for other commitments. 3223

Increased Resting Metabolism

High impact exercises increase your resting metabolism, which in turn causes the body to burn fat long after the workout. This happens because HIIT triggers a reaction known as EPOC (Excess Post Exercise Oxygen Consumption). EPOC refers to increased intake of oxygen following strenuous activity, which is the body’s way of eliminating its oxygen deficit. In this state, the body consumes more fuel because of an increased metabolism. As a result, fat stores break down and free fatty acids are released into the blood stream. 3224

Improved VO2 Max

Bursts of intense exercise push your body to consume more oxygen (aerobic capacity). Over time, this increases VO2 max, which is a numerical measurement of your body’s ability to consume oxygen. A higher VO2 max means that oxygen is being delivered efficiently to muscles. Consequently, this enables you to maintain a higher velocity for longer periods during activities that push your cardiovascular system to its limits. 3225

Increased Lactate Threshold

HIIT is one of the effective ways to increase lactic threshold, the point at which production of lactic acid exceeds its elimination from the blood. By increasing this threshold, you can train with more intensity before onset of blood lactate accumulation occurs. 3226


Not suitable for everyone

High impact workouts can be quite intense. Therefore, you need to be fit enough to take part in HIIT. If you are new to exercise, you are likely going to tire a lot faster during HIIT and not make the most out of your workouts. You need to first build up your cardiovascular endurance, core strength and balance before attempting high impact workouts. 1483

Higher risk of injury

The likelihood of injuring yourself increases significantly during high-intensity interval training for a number of reasons. To begin with, it becomes slightly hard to maintain proper form when moving at such fast speeds. In addition, you can overwork and thus injure your muscles or supportive tissue for joints especially if intervals are not timed correctly. 1508

It can cause dizziness

HIIT may cause blood pressure to drop fast, thus causing dizzy spells. 2209

Bottom Line

While high impact exercises offer plenty of benefits, keep in mind that they are not for everyone. People who have a history of cardio vascular disease or injuries should talk to a doctor first to determine whether their choice of high impact workouts is safe. On the other hand, it is prudent for beginners to build overall fitness first in order to handle high impact workouts without injuring themselves. If you consider yourself fairly active but only focus on low intensity or steady state cardio, adding HIIT can help you boost your overall fitness and performance. 2211