The Role of HIIT Workouts in Stress and Anxiety Management

Written by GHBY Team on Tue, 01 August 2023 — Fact checked by Dr. Naveeda Adam

Key Highlights

  • HIIT is a form of exercise that involves workouts alternating between short bursts of intense physical activity alternating with periods of rest or low-intensity exercise.
  • Research suggests that HIIT workouts positively affect metabolic health, including improved insulin sensitivity and fat metabolism.
  • HIIT has several health benefits, like better cardiovascular fitness, improved metabolism, fat loss, and enhanced cognitive function.
  • A few suggested mechanisms by which HIIT workouts can reduce stress and anxiety symptoms are endorphin release, better sleep quality,  and reduced cortisol levels. 

Finding effective methods to manage and reduce stress and anxiety is paramount. While exercises are proven to help lower stress and anxiety, one particular exercise that has gained popularity in effectively managing these conditions is HIIT or High-Intensity Interval Training.

Let's explore HIIT and how it helps lower signs of stress and anxiety, besides improving physical and mental well-being.

What are HIIT workouts

High-Intensity Interval Training, popularly called HIIT, is a type of workout involving short bursts of intense physical activity alternating with periods of rest or low-intensity exercise. These workouts typically last for a shorter duration compared to traditional steady-state cardio exercises. The high-intensity intervals push your body to maximum effort, while the recovery intervals allow for brief rest and restoration before the next intense interval begins.

HIIT workouts have gained tremendous popularity recently due to their effectiveness and efficiency in quickly achieving fitness goals. It is known for its ability to burn calories, significantly enhancing cardiovascular fitness. Additionally, HIIT also improves muscle strength and endurance.

Research suggests that HIIT workouts positively affect metabolic health, including improved insulin sensitivity and fat metabolism.

Besides the physical benefits, HIIT workouts have gained recognition for their potential impact on mental well-being. The endorphins released during HIIT can improve mood and create a sense of accomplishment. These aspects, combined with the time efficiency of HIIT workouts, contribute to helping individuals achieve their fitness goals and maintain an active lifestyle.

Benefits of HIIT

Benefits of HIIT

HIIT offers physical and mental health benefits. Popular health benefits include:

  • Improved cardiovascular fitness: The intense bursts of exercise in HIIT raise your heart rate, improving cardiovascular endurance and strengthening your heart.
  • Improved metabolism: HIIT has been shown to improve metabolism, leading to higher calorie burn after the workout. This is called the afterburn or excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC), which can contribute to weight management.
  • Fat Loss and better muscle tone: HIIT workouts can help lower body fat while maintaining lean muscle mass. An increase in lean muscle mass gives you a more toned physique.
  • Stress reduction: Engaging in high-intensity exercise releases endorphins, which are natural mood boosters. The physical exertion and focus required during HIIT workouts can help distract from stressors and lower stress and anxiety symptoms.
  • Better mood: HIIT has been associated with improved mood and reduced symptoms of anxiety and depression. The endorphin released during exercise can enhance feelings of happiness and well-being.
  • Enhanced cognitive function: Regular participation in HIIT workouts has been linked to improved cognitive function, including enhanced memory, attention, and mental clarity.

The physical and mental benefits of HIIT workouts make them appealing to individuals who wish to improve their overall well-being.

How do HIIT workouts help stress and anxiety management?

How do HIIT workouts help stress and anxiety management?

HIIT workouts can positively impact stress and anxiety management through various mechanisms:

1. Endorphin release

Like any other physical workout or exercise, HIIT triggers the release of endorphins. Endorphins are chemicals released in the brain that act as mood enhancers and pain relievers. The increased endorphin levels can promote relaxation, happiness, and overall well-being.

2. Reduce cortisol levels

Cortisol is a hormone associated with the body's stress response. A prolonged increase in cortisol levels as a result of chronic stress is harmful to your physical and mental health. HIIT workouts have been found to help regulate cortisol levels, reducing its excess release and promoting a more balanced stress response.

3. Improved sleep quality

Regular HIIT workouts have been linked to improved sleep quality. Physical exercise, including HIIT, can help regulate sleep patterns, promote deep and restful sleep, and reduce sleep disturbances. Good quality and optimum duration of sleep are crucial for managing stress and anxiety effectively.

4. Mood enhancement and psychological well-being

HIIT workouts stimulate endorphin release, leading to better mood and reduced anxiety. The positive effects on mood and psychological well-being can counter the negative impact caused by stress and anxiety.

5. Build resilience and physical endurance

Regular engagement in HIIT workouts can significantly enhance physical endurance, which plays a crucial role in building resilience against stressors. HIIT exercises work your cardiovascular system, muscles, and energy systems, pushing them to adapt and become more efficient.  

As a result, the body becomes better equipped to handle physical demands and stressors encountered in daily life. The improved physical endurance gained through HIIT workouts translates into increased stamina and resilience when facing challenging situations.

6. Build mental endurance

Besides physical endurance, HIIT workouts also contribute to mental endurance and resilience. The intensity of HIIT requires mental focus, discipline, and determination to push through discomfort and fatigue.

By consistently engaging in HIIT, individuals develop mental fortitude and the ability to withstand and overcome challenges. This mental resilience can extend beyond the exercise setting, helping individuals cope better with stressors and adversities in other aspects of life.


HIIT workouts play a significant role in reducing the effects of stress and anxiety, offering a wide range of benefits. HIIT workouts enhance cardiovascular fitness, improve metabolism, and provide time-efficient exercise options.

They stimulate the release of endorphins, reduce cortisol levels, and enhance sleep quality, all contributing to reduced anxiety and stress symptoms and improved mood. HIIT workouts also help build resilience by improving physical and mental endurance.



GHBY Team comprises content writers and content editors who specialise in health and lifestyle writing. Always on the lookout for new trends in the health and lifestyle space, Team GHBY follows an audience-first approach. This ensures they bring the latest in the health space to your fingertips, so you can stay ahead in your wellness game. 

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Our team of experts frequently monitors developments in the health and wellness field, and we update our articles when new information becomes available.

Current Version

Aug, 01 2023

Written By


Fact checked By

Dr. Naveeda Adam