This 30-minute HIIT workout burns fat and builds muscle, according to science

Older women can benefit from 30-minute home HIIT workouts and save time when compared to running and strength training

Grey haired woman exercising
(Image credit: Getty Images)

One of the biggest barriers to exercise is that it takes too long. Exercises such as running and strength training carry a ton of benefits, from heart health to mobility to slowing down the aging process. 

But taking 45 minutes to go for a run, or an hour to hit the gym, is a big chunk out of your day. Combined with changing and showering, you're looking at 90 minutes. 

However, home HIIT workouts, which stands for high-intensity interval training, need another look, especially for women over 60. Whether you like to use the best adjustable dumbbells or you prefer floor exercises on your best yoga mat, it's important to move, as research (opens in new tab) has found that "hormonal changes across the perimenopause substantially contribute to increased abdominal obesity". And if you don't have time to do a longer form workout, shorter HIIT routines can help you fit that movement into your day.

You might worry that you're not getting as much benefit from short HIIT workouts as you were from aerobic exercise and strength training, but you'd be wrong. A study from Federal University of Triângulo Mineiro, Brazil, looked at HIIT exercise versus a combination of strength training and aerobics, and how effective they might be for postmenopausal women. 

Older woman working out

(Image credit: Getty Images)

It's important to note the combined training participants were doing a 30-minute moderate-intensity walk, followed by a five-move strength training workout. The group of exercisers taking part in HIIT workouts, however, just did 30 minutes of HIIT training, including all their resting periods.

By the end of the challenge, the researchers found both groups gained muscle, lost fat, and had reduced blood sugar levels. The results were nearly identical, apart from the muscular strength levels of the combined training group.

If muscular strength is your goal, it's sensible to incorporate resistance training into your routine. However, if you're menopausal or postmenopausal and looking to exercise for better heart health, improved fitness and a little weight loss, you can do so in less time by completing a short HIIT workout challenge.

As you age, your joints become more susceptible to inflammation, so when looking for HIIT workouts you want to avoid going for high-impact movements such as burpees. You can replace these with low-impact exercises like squats, which don't involve vigorous jumping and focus more on muscle development. The below workout, from certified PT and popular YouTube trainer Heather Robertson (opens in new tab), is specifically designed to be a "no-jumping" 30-minute routine.

You should also be fuelling your body with good nutrition, too: check out our guide to the best menopause supplements.

Matt Evans
News Editor

Matt Evans is an experienced health and fitness journalist and News Editor at Fit&Well, covering all things exercise and nutrition on the Fit&Well website. Matt originally discovered exercise through martial arts: he holds a black belt in Karate and remains a keen runner, gym-goer, and infrequent yogi. His top fitness tip? Stretch.