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Music may help make HIIT a viable option for moderate exercisers

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Are you used to moderate to vigorous exercise? Do you shy away from trying out high-intensity interval training? Hey, it happens. Good news, though — listening to music may make it easier for you to adopt short duration exercise regimens.

In a study recently published in the Journal of Sport Sciences, researchers Kathleen Martin Ginis and Matthew Stork, from UBC's Okanagan campus, studied how moderate exercisers who'd never tried HIIT before reacted toward it.

The pair found that first-timers had positive attitudes about the exercise regimen — but even more so if they listened to music while they exercised.

HIIT is a time-efficient exercise strategy that sees people engage in short periods of intense anaerobic exercise separated by less-intense recovery periods. The exercise is distinct from more traditional long-duration aerobic exercise, such as jogging continuously for 50 minutes.

"There has been a lot of discussion in the exercise and public policy worlds about how we can get people off the couch and meeting their minimum exercise requirements," says Martin Ginis, who teaches health and exercise sciences at UBC. "The use of HIIT may be a viable option to combat inactivity, but there is a concern that people may find HIIT unpleasant, deterring future participation."

Newer research has established that as little as 10 minutes of intense HIIT, three times per week can elicit meaningful heath benefits, according to Stork. "For busy people who may be reluctant to try HIIT for the first time, this research tells us that they can actually enjoy it, and they may be more likely to participate in HIIT again if they try it with music," he added.

The pair hopes to learn more about people's perceptions towards HIIT and ultimately determine if they can adhere to these types of exercises in the long-term. After all, if people can handle HIIT safely and with clearance from their doctors, they may not necessarily need to do 150 minutes' worth of exercise a week. 

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