1. We all know that there are several benefits to exercise, including heart benefits. My question is what exactly are the benefits of HIIT on the heart?
HIIT Training is a specific type of exercise program that aims to improve cardiac and circularity health. Instead of a slow steady pace, HIIT training focus on short bursts of high intense exercise which briefly increases cardiac output. According to the ACC, HIIT training increases more lean muscle and reduces more body fat compared to lower intensity steady state exercises.
2. Can you explain what exactly happens to the heart when you are doing a HIIT workout (i.e. heart beats faster, certain chemicals are released from or to the heart, how does nitric oxide come into play, etc.)
During HIIT training your heart works harder meaning your blood pressure and heart rate increase at rates higher than low intensity steady state exercises. The result is an increased demand for oxygen in your blood causing your breathing to increase as well. In HIIT training, the higher cardiac output can result in increased arterial dilation. In regards to NO, HIIT training has shown in several studies to improve NO levels which are associated with reduced IR (ischemia reperfusion). (Please expand on this as I’m not an expert in cardiac enzyme and NO in the heart).
3. Would you recommend that someone use a heart rate monitor to help ensure they are actually working in the correct zones and making sure they don't overdo it? Yes. A heart rate monitor is a good tool to use to get instant feedback. In HIIT training, you push yourself harder and further than what you normally would......like pushing yourself to the limit or close to your limit. Use common sense and don’t push yourself beyond too far, but a HR monitor will help you determine your exercise intensity and duration of the exercise through biofeedback.
4. Is there anyone, heart wise, that is not suited for HIIT, why or why not?
HIIT training has shown great results for patients in a cardiac rehab setting especially with the strong emergence of home-based Cardiac Rehab programs.
The concept of HIIT is a great option when people don't have access to gyms due to Covid or do not own cardio equipment at home. HIIT is a great option when creating home based exercise prescriptions. Great research and outcomes especially when dealing with patients with vascular disease and coronary artery disease.
However, I would recommend someone start exercising at a lower intensity program and build themselves up to higher intensities as they can tolerate it. Remember....there are all types of exercises out there and HIIT is just one style. Mix it up a little bit and find what best works for you.....but you have to go out there and start exercising first. HIIT is a great option and can give you greater benefits when done properly.