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We’re all looking for the fountain of youth. Ours won’t come in the form of a pool at the base of a mountain in India, but the results of a new study may have discovered a modern-day version. It’s high interval training, and it may benefit older adults the most.
Interval training is also known as high-intensity interval training. It’s a combination of intense aerobic exercise with more moderate exercise. In other words, it’s like sprinting periodically for 30 seconds during a 30-minute jog.
Researchers have long suspected that the benefits of exercise extend down to the cellular level, meaning it can help your cells feel young again. So, let’s look at what interval training does and why older adults may be the ones who benefit the most.
In a study published in the journal “Cell Metabolism”, researchers found that while strength training was effective at building muscle mass, high-intensity interval training produced the biggest benefits at the cellular level. The younger study volunteers in the interval training group saw a 49% increase in mitochondrial capacity, and the older volunteers saw an even more dramatic 69% increase. In other words, interval training reverses age-related muscle decline.
The high-intensity biking regimen also rejuvenated the volunteers' ribosomes, which are responsible for producing your cells' protein building blocks. Some of the other benefits of high-intensity interval training (for young and older adults) include:
Your maximal oxygen uptake (VO2 peak) is a widely reported measure of aerobic fitness.
The insulin sensitivity benefit is extremely important because of the diabetes epidemic. It could be a natural way to promote better blood sugar regulation.
Mitochondrial respiration is what happens when your cells are creating energy and eliminating waste.
Lean body mass is the difference between total body weight and body fat weight—n other words, dropping your body fat percentage.
Interval training is not hard to do. Especially if you’re already exercising on a regular basis. It’s just a matter of increasing your intensity when you get to that zone where you feel really challenged while you’re doing it.
For example, researchers at the National Strength and Conditioning Association recommend 20-30 minutes of continuous exercise, with bouts of 1-2 min of more intense exercise mixed in, and followed by 1-4 minutes of recovery time. That means upping the intensity level periodically while riding the stationary bike, elliptical, or while jogging.
Before you start any interval training, it’s important you talk to your doctor. You can start out with shorter durations and build up—you don’t have to start at 30 minutes.
Researchers concede there are benefits to any exercise program. But they’re finding it hard to argue against the benefits of high-intensity interval training at any age. This is especially true for older adults.
This is extremely important if you’re an older adults who is trying to decrease your risk for disease. Another way you can find out how to decrease your risk for health issues that become more prevalent as you age is by downloading our guide: “The Most Concerning Health Issues for Older Adults.” In it you’ll find out how to avoid the disease that affects 25% of all older adults and what happens every 10 seconds to older adults.