Why include HIIT in your teens' daily workout routine?

Written by Varuna Shunglu
Published: December 30, 2022
Varuna Shunglu is an author, lawyer, health counselor and meditation teacher. She consults with Schools to create wellness curriculums and has worked with over 10,000+ kids in the last 8 years. Degrees : BA(Hons), LLB, Msc Yogic Science, Teacher trainer World Yoga Federation and Yoga Alliance International.

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As a parent, you want what is best for your children. You want them to be happy and healthy, and to live a long and fulfilling life. One of the best ways to help them do this is to make sure they are getting enough exercise. But with so many different types of exercises out there, it can be tough to know where to start. That’s why, in this article, we’re going to focus on one type of exercise in particular: High-Intensity Interval Training, or HIIT. We’ll cover why HIIT is a beneficial exercise for teens, how to incorporate HIIT into their workout routine, and what the benefits of HIIT are for both parents and children.

The benefits of HIIT for parents and children

HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) is a type of exercise that has many benefits for both parents and children. Here are just a few of the many benefits:

1. HIIT can help to improve overall fitness levels.

2. HIIT can help to burn calories quickly.

3. HIIT can increase muscular strength and endurance.

4. HIIT can improve heart health by reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke.

One of the best things about HIIT is that it can be done in a short amount of time. You can do HIIT anywhere, whether you are at home or at a gym. You don’t need any special equipment, and it is easy to follow the instructions.

A research conducted on ‘ healthy children’  in 2017 revealed that HIIT has been linked with reducing the risk for chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. This clinical study was conducted for a minimum of 7 weeks and determined that running sessions for short intense durations where one reached greater than 90% heart rate or 100-130% maximal aerobic velocity( lowest speed of running wherever oxygen intake is at the highest) could improve cardiovascular disease biomarkers. This is recommended 2-3 times a week. 

These are just some of the few benefits that HIIT can infuse into your kids’ daily routine but first let us understand the science behind this practice.

Why HIIT is beneficial for teens?

HIIT is a great exercise to help teens lose weight and build endurance. HIIT helps burn fat by increasing the amount of calories that are burned. Additionally, HIIT builds endurance because it requires continuous effort over a period of time. This can lead to better sleep habits, as well as improved mental health, better cognitive control, boost brain power and improved tasks involving memory. 

In a research conducted at the University of Auckland in 2012, two groups of children were taken through-  HIIT routines and 40-minute aerobic workouts respectively after which they were made to play cognitive card games to test their working memory and cognitive control. It was discovered that the group doing HIIT did better when tested post their exercise. That goes to show that exercise is good, but for certain purposes, HIIT can be great. 

The Science Behind HIIT

When it comes to health and fitness, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. That’s why scientists have been experimenting with different types of HIIT for years in an effort to find the most effective regimen for different people.

The science behind HIIT is pretty impressive. HIIT, or high-intensity interval training, is a form of exercise that has been shown to be incredibly effective for both adults and teens. It’s based on the science of intermittent hypoxic training, which was first developed in the 1970s as an effective way to treat heart disease. If there are any underlying health challenges, please consult your doctor before beginning a routine. 

One study that has caught a lot of attention recently is a study published by the International journal of environmental research and public health in 2019. It tests different modalities of training and found that moderate-intensity continuous training ( MICT) was not as impactful as HIIT when it came to Cardiorespiratory fitness(CRF) which is an important marker for heart health and metabolic disorders. In the literature of these randomised controlled trials, it said ” findings of this study reveals that HIIT versus MICT shows a significant improvement in peak VO2 in children and adolescents. This has led us to believe that HIIT is a truly important element to integrate into daily routines not simply as a time-saving strategy but also one that protects our children’s health.

How to incorporate HIIT into your teen’s workout routine

Studies have shown that people who regularly perform HIIT workouts tend to have lower rates of cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes mellitus type 2, hypertension, obesity and asthma—just to name a few conditions. That’s because HIIT increases the amount of “good” hormones like adrenaline and testosterone while decreasing levels of “bad” hormones like cortisol. 

What types of exercises are considered HIIT? There’s no single definition for HIIT, but generally speaking, it includes activities that involve short bursts of intense activity followed by periods of rest or low-intensity exercise. So things, like running, jumping rope, cycling sprints, burpees and skipping rope, are all examples of HIIT exercises.

How to incorporate HIIT into your teen’s workout routine? It’s easy! Simply divide your typical workout routine into three parts:

1. Endurance exercise (like jogging or walking), 

2. Moderate-intensity interval exercise (like brisk walking or biking at an easy pace), and,

3. High-intensity interval exercise (like running or swimming). Then mix them up as needed so that each part features different types of intervals.

The Importance Of HIIT For Teens

HIIT exercises for teens have been shown to improve academic performance in teenagers when it is properly implemented into their school routine.

These improvements have major implications for teen health down the road – things like reducing the risk of chronic diseases, body fat percentage, insulin resistance, cholesterol levels, improving joint function and flexibility, increasing speed and power output during athletic pursuits, etc.

HIIT routines can improve these biomarkers far better than other forms of exercise for children and adolescents.

How To Get Started With HIIT

If you’re a teen, there are many reasons why you should start incorporating HIIT into your fitness routine to enhance cardiovascular health, lean muscle tissue, burning calories.

There’s no need to be intimidated by HIIT – it really is quite simple once you’ve got the hang of it. The first step is to find a workout routine that fits into your schedule and meets your specific needs. Once you’ve identified a few suitable workouts, try incorporating some high-intensity interval training (HIIT) into them. Start with shorter intervals and gradually increase the intensity over time until you reach the desired level of challenge. Don’t be afraid to push yourself – after all, that’s what makes HIIT such an exciting and challenging form of exercise.

All things considered, HIIT has lots of great benefits for people young and old alike. If you’re interested in trying out this unique form of exercise, make sure to give it a go – there’s no doubt that you’ll be pleased with the results!

What Are Some Common Mistakes People Make With HIIT?

There Are Some Common Mistakes That Parents And Teens Make When Incorporating HIIT Into Their Routines:

1. Not understanding how HIIT works – If you’re not familiar with the science behind HIIT, you may not be able to correctly plan and execute your workouts.

2. Ignoring the warm-up – A proper warm-up is essential before any type of exercise, including HIIT. This will help prepare your body for the intense work that will come later in the workout.

3. Not being consistent – Consistency is key when it comes to anything worth doing, including incorporating HIIT into your fitness routine! 

4. Trying too hard – Too much effort during a workout can actually lead to injury or worse – fatigue! Make sure to push yourself as hard as you need without going overboard. Listen to your body for feedback about how far you should go each time you work out.

FAQs About HIIT For Teens 

How Often Should My Teen Do HIIT?

There is no one answer to this question, as it depends on your individual teen’s fitness level and goals. Generally speaking, however, you should try to include HIIT in your teen’s routine at least once or twice per week. 

How can I make sure my teen is doing HIIT safely?

If you are supervising your teen while they are performing HIIT exercises, make sure that they are following all the proper safety guidelines. For example, always ensure that they wear a properly fitted helmet when participating in any type of sports or activity involving contact with the ground or other objects. Additionally, be sure to monitor their breathing and heart rate during each session so that they remain safe and healthy while completing these exercises.

If my teen is already very active – do they still need to do HIIT?

No – if your teen is already active and engaged in regular physical activity then there is no need for them to do HIIT specifically designed for teens. However, including some form of cardio (such as running or cycling) in their regular routine will likely benefit them just as much or more than doing HIIT.

Bottom Line

HIIT is a great way for parents to help their children stay healthy and fit. However, by no means should this be your only workout mode. 

The body along with burning calories also needs rest and repair which comes through other slower modalities like strength training, yoga callisthenics etc. Proper hydration and diet can help supplement the fibre, proteins and minerals that the body produces energy through.  It is also important to sleep which heals the mind and body.


High -intensity interval training intervention in children and adolescents: a systematic review. Sports Medicine 47(11),2363-2374,2017

School based High intensity interval training program in children and adolescents: A systematic review and meta-analysis.

PloS one 17(5),e0266427,2022.

Effect of hight- intensity interval training on heart rate variability in prepubescent children.

European Journal of applied physiology 105(5),731-738,2009.

Effect of high intensity interval training versus moderate intensity continuous training on cardio respiratory function in children and adolescents.

International journal of environmental research and public health 16(9),1533-2019.

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The views expressed are that of the expert alone.

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