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Crossfit vs. HIIT

CrossFit vs. High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

Which exercise is right for you?

by John Kelley, MD
Family Medicine Physician at Boulder Medical Center

When trying to figure out what type of exercise is right for you, there are numerous considerations to be made. Not only should one factor in their age, existing level of fitness, and personal goals but there are other important factors which contribute to finding the right kind of exercise. One should also consider any disease conditions such as coronary artery disease, diabetes, obesity, and osteoporosis, to name a few. Yet in my practice I find that the largest barrier to patients achieving their fitness goals is finding a workout that fits into their busy schedules. I have the same problem!

A couple of the more popular exercise routines to come about recently are CrossFit and HIIT (high intensity interval training). Both of these exercise programs are widely offered in Boulder County, Colo. and are event available online. What I like about these approaches is that they combine resistance training with cardio. Resistance training is excellent for building muscle, increasing basal metabolic rate, which can enhance fat burning, and increasing bone density. This is especially important as we age and are more susceptible to osteoporosis. Cardio training is also good for weight loss but more importantly for cardiovascular health because of its role in reducing blood pressure and resting heart rate, which leads to overall less stress on your heart and vascular system.

So which one of these exercises is right for you?  If you’re wanting to start light, HIIT is a great beginning point because the exercises are short, usually 10 to 15 minutes (sometimes shorter) and can help build endurance and strength. Research also shows that HIIT can help achieve fat loss more efficiently than basic cardio. As long as your heart is working at 80% of its maximum, you will receive an efficient workout.

Crossfit is a good extension of HIIT workouts, as they tend to be a little bit longer and more intense. If you’re ready to begin a workout plan and haven’t maintained fitness for some time, HIIT training is a great place to start. If you’re ready to push yourself further and build off the base you’ve developed, Crossfit would be a fun challenge and could also guarantee results.

Note:  Check with your doctor before starting or expanding upon any exercise plan.


Get to know Dr. John Kelley

Dr. Kelley practices holistic medicine in the broadest sense of the word. For him, every patient has to be approached as an individual person with specific needs, focusing on the mind-body connection through a bio-psycho-social lens.

“I focus on diet, exercise and healthy personal and spiritual lives in the treatment and prevention of chronic disease,” he says. “I am always seeking ways to get patients safely off of medications.”

In addition to Western medicine, Dr. Kelley utilizes evidence-based Eastern medicine, natural supplementation and continues to train in the ever-expanding field of Integrative Medicine.


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