HIIT and Stress: Moderation is the Key

HIIT workout consists of short bouts of intense work lasting anywhere from 10 to 60 seconds, followed immediately by a period of active recovery of the same length or longer. Positive physiological benefits from HIIT include heightened post-exercise metabolism, improved body composition, and improved fasting blood glucose and insulin sensitivity.

HIIT, High Intensity Interval Training Workout Indoors

It has gained acclaim as being an efficient way to improve many aspects of physical fitness. But without proper recovery, intense exercise can lead to elevated levels of cortisol in the bloodstream and heightened symptoms of physical stress, even when exercise is not being performed.

Effect of HIIT on Cortisol Levels

Cortisol is one of the many hormones our body produces to handle stress. During HIIT, the brain senses stress, and a cascade of hormones is released, including cortisol. The release of cortisol activates the sympathetic nervous system, generating a fight-or-flight response.

The cortisol response that is generated during HIIT turns the body into a lean, fast, and powerful machine. Brain receives the message that your survival depends on this interval, at which point cortisol and other hormones are released. The body then makes metabolic improvements following this energetically and hormonally demanding experience.

Overtraining syndrome has some physiological causes, which may include a raised level of cortisol. This cortisol floats freely in the bloodstream, causing negative symptoms to creep into your everyday life. Some of which include –

  • chronic fatigue
  • muscle fatigue or a noticeable decrease in power while exercising
  • changes in mood
  • lack of physical and psychological motivation
  • changes in sleep patterns or sleeplessness
  • feelings of anxiety
  • repressed immune system and consistent illness

Importance of Recovery

HIIT solicits such a powerful reaction from our sympathetic nervous system, it’s critically important to prioritize recovery when your workouts are frequently of high intensity. Recovery between intervals and recovery days between workouts are key to seeing positive physical results from your HIIT workouts.

The quality of your recovery is also important, and can be enhanced with different practices, including :

  • sleep
  • good nutrition and hydration
  • meditation and slow breathing exercises
  • foam rolling or massage
  • abstaining from intense exercise

So, next time you challenge yourself with a HIIT workout, be sure to plan for rest afterward to reap the biggest gains.


Source: https://www.healthline.com/health/fitness/the-cortisol-creep

Author: Pallabi Sinha

I am a Nutritionist with 6 years of expertise in the field. I have a knack of convincing people to switch to a healthier lifestyle.