High Intensity Interval Training – A Walking Workout


What is it?

HIIT: short bursts (20 seconds to 4 minutes) of intense exercise alternating with rest easier periods

Why should I try it?

Benefits: improved heart and lung fitness, gains in strength, decreases in blood sugar, blood pressure, and heart rate. Athletes use HIIT to improve their performance; non-athletes use it to improve fitness. And you can fit your entire workout within 10 minutes if you need to. The recent New York Times 1 minute work-out was actually three 20-second intense cycles alternating with relaxation and including a warm up and cool down (the whole thing actually took 10 minutes).

Be aware: More intense exercise carries more risk. If you have high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, or other medical conditions, talk with your doctor before starting an HIIT program.

A walking HIIT program:

  • If you aren’t already very fit, start slowly, adding one HIIT training day per week
  • Warm up by walking at a comfortable pace for 5 minutes
  • Walk as fast as you can push yourself for 1 minute
  • Slow down to a comfortable pace and walk for 2 minutes
  • Continue alternating until you have completed 4-5 cycles of fast/slow walking
  • Cool down by walking at a comfortable pace for 5 minutes

This version takes 25 minutes if you do 5 cycles. You can adjust the amounts of time to your fitness level and time constraints. For example, you could start with 30 second intense periods if a minute feels too long or give yourself longer (or shorter) rest periods. Try to keep at least 3 minutes for the warm up and cool down periods if you can.

Note that you don’t have to be formally exercising to do HIIT cycles. If you are walking to the bus or walking to a meeting, you can throw in a 30 second or 1 minute fast walk push.

Some people have been doing this at our Walk With A Doc walking groups! The schedule/locations are below in case you’d like to join:

Center City
Every 2nd Wednesday of the month, 12:00-1:00pm
*Meet at Municipal Services Building, in front of the iron monopoly piece
North Philly
Every 3rd Tuesday of the month in North Philly, 12:00-1:00pm
*Meet on corner of n 9th St. and Berks St., in front of the Paseo Verde building