Is HIIT Better Than Running? The Ultimate Fitness Debate

When it comes to fitness, there are numerous ways to keep oneself fit and healthy. While some are a little more traditional, others have made their way onto the scene more recently. One such trend is HIIT, which stands for High-Intensity Interval Training. HIIT involves short bursts of high-intensity exercise followed by a period of rest, alternating over a period. Running, on the other hand, has been around for an incredibly long time, popularized for its simplicity and convenience. In recent years, both HIIT and running have gained popularity for their abilities to aid in weight loss, maintenance and overall fitness. However, if you have ever found yourself unsure which of these workouts to undertake, we will answer all your pressing questions in this in-depth article.

What is HIIT?

HIIT, as mentioned before, stands for High-Intensity Interval Training. It involves short bursts of intense exercise followed by shorter periods of rest. This type of training is designed to increase the heart rate quickly, which in turn raises the metabolism for the rest of the day. In other words, HIIT is said to burn more calories over a longer period of time, known as the afterburn effect, helping you to lose weight and improve fitness rapidly. This type of training is also said to help with building muscle and quickening one’s metabolism in a shorter time frame compared to traditional workouts.

Importance of HIIT

HIIT is essential for fitness enthusiasts in many ways. Firstly, it helps in weight loss by burning off more calories over a shorter period, which also results in faster metabolism. Secondly, HIIT helps in developing the aerobic endurance capacity of the body. It increases the body’s oxygen intake capacity and improves your lung and heart health. Lastly, HIIT is great for shaping up your body by toning it, enhancing muscle volume, strength and reducing body fat.

What is Running?

Running, on the other hand, is a low-intensity workout that has been around for decades. Running involves covering a specific distance at a given speed using different intervals between running and walking, commonly known as jogging. Running is known for providing effective cardiovascular conditioning, reducing the risk of heart diseases and improving diabetes and bone density. It is also great for building endurance, muscle strength, and reducing osteoporosis, arthritis and other chronic diseases.

Running for weight loss

Running is one of the most efficient and convenient ways to reach your weight loss goals. Running a mile can burn up to 100 calories on average, and the number of calories one can burn running for an hour will heavily depend on the weight, gender, and age of the runner. Running also helps in overall physical and mental health by reducing stress levels, improving sleep quality and mental wellness.

HIIT Vs. Running: Which is better?

The answer to this question is somewhat subjective, and it depends on what you want to achieve. If you are looking for a workout that establishes a higher heart rate in a shorter span of time, HIIT is your best bet. Conversely, if you have no time restrictions and prefer a steadier approach, running is the best bet. HIIT and running training can be combined as well, which helps in achieving maximum results by using a mix of high and low-intensity workouts.

Benefits of Combining HIIT and Running

Combining HIIT and running helps in maximizing the results, improving one’s fitness level and endurance. This combination helps in keeping workouts fresh and exciting while burning the highest amount of calories at the same time. HIIT-integrated workouts are also known for providing an excellent aerobic and anaerobic conditioning challenge to the body.

Benefits of HIIT and Running

The following are a few benefits of HIIT and Running for overall health and wellness:

Benefits of HIIT Workouts

  • Time Efficiency – Time-saving due to short span work durations.
  • Increased Metabolic Rate – HIIT increases the body’s metabolism to burn more calories even when you rest.
  • Cuts Down Excess Body Fat – One of the top benefits of including HIIT in your workout is that it cuts down excess body fat rapidly.
  • Good Cardiovascular workout – HIIT combines strength training and cardio, thereby improving overall health and fitness.

Benefits of Running Workouts

  • Weight loss – Running is a great way to burn calories, resulting in weight loss.
  • Increases Bone Density – Running helps in increasing bone density, reducing the risk of osteoporosis in the long run.
  • Stress Relief – Running provides a great way to reduce stress and improve overall physical and mental health.
  • Improves overall Body Fitness – Running enhances the cardiovascular health of your entire body, improving endurance and fitness levels.

Is HIIT or Running right for you?

Choosing between HIIT and running ultimately depends on your fitness goals and how much time you want to devote to your workout. In case you have more time and prefer a steady paced workout, running is the appropriate choice for you. However, if you don’t have enough time on hand and want quick results, then HIIT is the most appropriate workout for you.

Factors to Consider While Choosing Between HIIT and Running

  • Time Availability – Consider the time you have available daily for workouts.
  • Physical Ability – HIIT comes with more intensity compared to running. Consider your physical ability when choosing between the two.
  • Fitness Goals – Choose a workout that aligns with your fitness goals.
  • Prioritization and Motivation – Choose what you’ll enjoy most and what you can stick with a longer period of time.


HIIT and running are both great workouts, each with their respective benefits. However, choosing one of these will depend on factors like your physical ability, fitness goals, and time availability. Your workout goals will determine what is best for you, and the combination of both HIIT and running can increase the effectiveness of workouts. So whether you prefer a short-term or long-term approach, incorporating HIIT and running in your workout regime will help you achieve your health and fitness goals with great success!

Most Common Questions and their Answers

  • Q: What is HIIT?
  • A: HIIT stands for High-Intensity Interval Training, a popular form of exercise that comprises short periods of intense cardio exercise alternated with recovery periods at a lower intensity.
  • Q: Can HIIT be done every day?
  • A: HIIT can be done every day, provided your body has the necessary recovery time and necessary energy levels.
  • Q: Can HIIT replace running?
  • A: HIIT and running are not interchangeable. While HIIT might help you burn calories and lose weight faster, running helps in building endurance and vast body fitness.
  • Q: How many times a week should you do HIIT?
  • A: You should try and do HIIT workouts two to three times a week, while limiting high-intensity exercise duration to 15-20 minutes.
  • Q: Can you lose weight through running?
  • A: Yes, running helps in burning calories and promoting weight loss. However, one should be careful not to overdo it or increase calorie intake due to increased hunger.


Gillen, J.B., Martin, B.J., MacInnis, M.J., Skelly, L.E., Tarnopolsky, M.A. and Gibala, M.J., 2016. Twelve weeks of sprint interval training improves indices of cardiometabolic health similar to traditional endurance training despite a five-fold lower exercise volume and time commitment. PloS one, 11(4), p.e0154075.

Mermier, C.M., Janot, J.M., Parker, D.L., Swan, J.G., Sauter, E.R. and Robertson, R.J., 2000. Validity of VO2max equations for aerobically trained females. Medicine and science in sports and exercise, 32(5), pp.975-981.

Tremblay, A., Simoneau, J.A. and Bouchard, C., 1994. Impact of exercise intensity on body fatness and skeletal muscle metabolism. Metabolism, 43(7), pp.814-818.

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