Everything You Need to Know About HIIPA: The Exercise Trend for People Who Don’t Have Time to Work Out

Let’s face it: On some days, you just don't have the time to spend a full hour clocking miles on the treadmill or pumping weights at the squat rack. You already have one thousand other things on your to-do list, and unfortunately, working out doesn’t always make the cut.

We get it, and we have some good news: New research says that the exercise you do on those no-workout days (you know, when you take the stairs or carry heavy groceries) might be more beneficial than you think.

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Say hello to HIIPA, or high-intensity incidental physical activity. It’s a version of HIIT (high-intensity interval training) that you already do as you go about your everyday life, no gym needed. Last year, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) updated the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans to say that physical activity no longer has to last at least 10 minutes to be beneficial. The new thinking is that every bit of activity counts, even if it’s just two minutes at a time.

So what kind of activity qualifies as HIIPA? According to a report published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine this week, HIIPA is any movement you make that gets your heart rate up—such as vacuuming every room in your house, chasing your kids around the backyard, parking your car in a faraway spot and having to walk a few minutes to your office door, and lugging a heavy load of laundry to the laundromat.

Instead of thinking you have to block out an hour of your day to get your blood pumping, you can treat the things you’re already doing as built-in bites of exercise.

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"There is a lot of research telling us that any type of HIIT, irrespective of the duration and number of repetitions, is one of the most effective ways to rapidly improve fitness and cardiovascular health and HIIPA works on the same idea," Emmanuel Stamatakis, PhD, lead author on the report, said in a statement.

The report also says that one of the great things about HIIPA is that it does away with the usual obstacles that hold people back from making exercise a regular part of their routine—like the high price of gym memberships, not having enough time, and simply lacking the skills and motivation.

HIIPA is gaining popularity at just the right time, considering many Americans just aren’t meeting the current guidelines, which call for adults to complete 150 to 300 minutes of moderate physical activity, or 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous activity, per week. Only 26% of men and 19% of women are meeting that benchmark, according to research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association last year with the updated physical activity guidelines.

“The new guidelines demonstrate that, based on the best science, everyone can dramatically improve their health just by moving—anytime, anywhere, and by any means that gets you active,” said Admiral Brett P. Giroir, MD, assistant secretary for health, in an HHS press release.

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