High-Intensity Exercise Is More Enjoyable Than Moderate-Intensity Exercise

Would you rather exercise comfortably for a longer period of time or push yourself to your max over a shorter period of time?

Despite the more physically demanding nature of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) that’s often characterized by shortness of breath, leg pain and dramatic fatigue, it turns out that the majority of people tend to prefer it over moderate-intensity continuous exercise (MICT).

In a recent study, researchers examined participants’ enjoyment responses to both HIIT and MICT. Unlike MICT, which doesn’t involve pushing yourself as hard as you can and is typically performed at a steady state, HIIT involves exerting yourself far past comfortable exertion levels in very quick bursts followed by short, active rest periods.

Twelve healthy, active men and women who participated in the study first underwent VO2 max testing to determine their personalized activity workloads appropriate for moderate-intensity and high-intensity exercise. Each participant was then asked to perform two exercise trials of either HIIT or MICT.

For the HIIT test, the participants completed eight 60-second rounds of intense activity at 85 percent maximal workload with 60 seconds of an active rest period following each round. For the MICT test, participants completed a 20-minute period of steady state cycling at 45 percent maximal workload.

After each exercise session, the participants were asked to document their enjoyment by completing the Physical Activity Enjoyment Scale (PACES). Eleven out of 12 participants showed higher enjoyment responses to HIIT in comparison to MICT.

The researchers say that higher enjoyment was experienced for HIIT because it can be completed in a much shorter amount of time than MICT as a more efficient form of exercise. The constantly changing stimulus involved with cycling through activity bursts and rest periods also contributed to greater enjoyment.

According to an interview published by PsyPost with the study’s corresponding author, Todd A. Astorino, previous research only vaguely suggested that HIIT could be a more enjoyable form of exercise, which gave him and his team reason to do further testing on enjoyment responses. He also mentioned that only 25 percent of all American adults get the recommended 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week, so if HIIT is typically more enjoyable, ramping up the intensity and shortening the exercise period could possibly help people stick to their long-term fitness goals.

The CDC states that one minute of high-intensity activity is equal to two minutes of moderate-intensity activity. So, essentially, you could cut your weekly recommended amount of physical activity in half just by switching from moderate-intensity exercise to high-intensity exercise. Alternatively, you could do a mix of both.

The great thing about HIIT is that it’s so versatile. It can be done almost anywhere — even at home with no equipment — and even by complete beginners who are open to taking it slow first.

Despite its benefits and tendency to be more enjoyable than longer, steady state forms of exercise, HIIT certainly isn’t for everyone. It’s a high-impact form of activity (unless done on an elliptical) and takes a lot of work from your heart.

WebMD recommends asking your doctor first about HIIT if you’re new to it — especially if you have any health conditions or concerns. If you get the A-OK from your doctor, you might want to try these three quick beginner HIIT workouts that will leave you feeling sweaty and exhausted — in a good way, of course!

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Photo Credit: Thinkstock

33 comments

Margie F
Margie FOURIE6 months ago

Thanks again

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Dennis Hall
Dennis Hall7 months ago

thanks

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Winn A
Winn A7 months ago

Check with your doctor before doing any of this.

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Winn A
Winn A7 months ago

What if you have arthritis?

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Winn A
Winn A7 months ago

I can't imagine my joints liking any of this.

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Dorre R
Dorre R7 months ago

I've recently been converted to the benefits of HIIT, interspersed with some less strenuous exercises to work the muscles that wouldn't otherwise get a look in. It's only taken a couple of weeks to start feeling the benefits.

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Philippa P
Philippa P7 months ago

Thanks.

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william Miller
william Miller7 months ago

thanks

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Sandra V
Sandra V7 months ago

Thanks

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Marija M
Marija M7 months ago

tks

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