The Grapevine

New Exercise Trend 'HIIPA' Could Help You Work Out In Less Time

For a while, it was believed that any activity we perform had to last for at least ten minutes to be beneficial. This recommendation, however, was not backed by high-quality evidence.

In 2018, physical activity guidelines for Americans were altered for the first time since 2008. Now, it has been made clear that any bit of movement counts toward your health, regardless of the duration of the activity.

"Everything counts," said Loretta DiPietro, an epidemiologist at George Washington University. Simply cycling over a short distance or walking an extra block "can accumulate over the course of the day," she noted.

Most of us have heard of high-intensity interval training or HIIT — the form of exercise which involves repeating bursts of vigorous physical activity followed by rest. The activity may last between six seconds to four minutes while the rests last between 30 seconds to four minutes.

You may think this regimen, which can effectively boost heart health and overall fitness, only has a place in the gym. But a new study, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, explains why this is not true.

High-intensity incidental physical activity or HIIPA describes the regular activities we perform as a part of our daily routines, except they involve a minute or two of vigorous intensity — just enough to leave you feeling out of breath.

In other words, HIIPA uses the principle of HIIT but in a practical manner that is achievable for everyone. For example, try spending two minutes of your office break vigorously climbing a few flights of stairs. Or if you are walking somewhere, increase your pace for 300 to 600 feet before slowing down to normal again.

"The beauty of HIIPA and the idea of using activities we are already doing as part of everyday life is that it is much more realistic and achievable for most people," said Emmanuel Stamatakis of the University of Sydney's Charles Perkins Centre and School of Public Health. 

"The time commitment for HIIPA is close to zero minutes per day, and people could save even more time if their HIIPA involves brief walking sprints, or taking the stairs instead of waiting for the lift," added Stamatakis, co-author of the editorial which was a response to the updated guidelines for Americans.

Among other advantages, this kind of activity comes at no extra cost and does not require any equipment either. Being a lot more flexible than HIIT, it also presents a way for obese people, older adults, or sedentary individuals to gradually become active without being overwhelmed. 

The Health and Human Services Department has previously stated that physical activity can improve heart health, reduce the risk of eight types of cancer and slow down the progression of type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and more in the long run.