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As Workouts Intensify, a Harmful Side Effect Grows More Common

If you’re thinking of taking your workouts to the next level, you may want to be mindful that pushing your muscles too far to the max can result in a muscle disorder called rhabdomyolysis, when extreme exercise causes overworked muscles to die and release their contents into the bloodstream, according to The New York Times. This not only is painful, but can damage your kidneys.

This is a great time to talk about high-intensity interval training (HIIT), a different way of maximizing your workouts in an intense, but shorter and safer manner. One reason high-intensity interval training is so effective has to do with genetic optimization. This kind of activity appears to be “built into” our genotype: Intense but brief exertion produces immediate changes in your DNA, improves glucose tolerance and triggers production of human growth hormone and mitochondrial biogenesis, which is crucial for longevity.

Even better news is that HIIT, as well as variable-intensity interval training (VIIT) takes less time than a traditional high-intensity routine that generally involves at least an hour. With HIIT, the time required is inversely associated with the intensity. The higher the intensity, the less time you have to spend on it. As incredible as it sounds, a recent experiment showed that one single minute of strenuous activity within a 10-minute exercise session is as effective as working out for 45 minutes at a moderate pace.

The obvious benefit of these findings is that, if you exercise efficiently, meaning short intense bursts of exertion, you can get fit in a mere fraction of the time it would take you engaging in more moderate exertion. And the results — in terms of improving your health and fitness — are virtually identical.

But remember: Balance is key, so listen to your body and modify your exercise intensity and frequency based on the feedback you get from your body.
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