HIT workouts may boost exercise motivation

In the Journals

If exercise motivation is a problem, try high-intensity interval training (HIT), says a study published online Dec. 14, 2016, by PLOS ONE. The researchers found that HIT is more enjoyable than moderate continuous aerobic exercise, and thus may help you stick with your workouts.

In the study, 40 sedentary adults were divided into two groups, with each doing stationary bike workouts, three days a week. The HIT group did 10 bouts of one-minute high-intensity intervals at 90% to 95% of peak heart rate, followed by a one-minute recovery, for 20 minutes. The other half did moderate intensity cycling at 70% to 75% peak heart rate continuously for about 28 minutes.

After six weeks, the HIT group had a 10% higher overall exercise enjoyment score than the moderate-intensity group. Also, the HIT group's score increased weekly and peaked by the end, while the moderate intensity group's score stayed stagnant throughout.

The results also showed that the HIT group's workload (a measurement of strength) improved twice as much compared with the moderate intensity group, which suggests there may be an association between improved fitness and enjoyment. "It appears that the stronger you get, the more you enjoy the workout. This may make you more motivated to continue," says lead researcher Dr. Jennifer J. Heisz of McMaster University in Canada.