HIIT Increases Longevity

A few months ago I wrote an article about the benefits of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT).

A new study provided by Consumer Reports says the changes are vast with this type of training. For every age! Sadly older adults are usually advised to work out at a moderate intensity, but vigorous exercise may give you more benefits in less time.

When someone is first starting an exercise program slower is better, but over time we must increase the endurance. Neal Pire, the national director of wellness services for Castle Connolly Private Health Partners, said “when you work at your peak effort level, you fire up your metabolism, and keep it elevated, burning calories at a higher level for hours after your workout.”

It is impossible to go all-out for long, high-intensity interval training (HIIT). This is the go-to for taking things up a bit.  This involves alternating bursts of vigorous effort (80 to 95 percent of your maximal heart rate) with easier “recovery” periods.

How long you can sustain it is subjective and individualized, so people at any fitness level and age can train this way.

It is actually time-efficient and effective. In a study published in the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine, people who did 14 minute workouts that included HIIT saw similar fitness improvements to those who did half-hour sessions at a consistent effort. Plus, research shows that HIIT significantly  reduces heart disease risks and blood pressure.

It may also protect against type 2 diabetes. An analysis of 50 studies published in Obesity Reviews found that in people at high risk of type 2 diabetes, fasting blood glucose levels are significantly lower following at least two weeks of HIIT than after no exercise.

A study published in the journal Cell Metabolism found that HIIT helps the function of mitochondria and ribosomes-cell powerhouses that break down with age. AFter 12 weeks of HIIT, mitochondrial capacity in muscle cells increased 69 percent in 65 to 80 year olds. (compared with 49 percent in those 18 to 30).

“Improvements are also likely happening in tissues of the organs, such as the brain, as well,” says Sreekumaran Nair, M.D., Ph.D., a family physician at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

As with any exercise program, get an okay from your doctor or alternative practitioner. If you haven’t been exercising please start slow and work up to a higher intensity routine. “Begin by replacing just one of your usual cardio sessions per week and follow a 1:3 hard-to-easy ratio,” says Cedric Bryant, Ph.D. the chief science officer for the American Council on Exercise.

If you can sprint or walk faster for 30 seconds, the take 90-seconds to recover in between. “As you progress, add another weekly HIIT workout and decrease your easy periods, but always give yourself 48 to 72 hours between these sessions,” Bryant says.

The American College of Sports Medicine recommends at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio exercise five days a week or 20 minutes of vigorous activity three times a week. If you progress to three HIIT sessions, you’ve shaved two workouts off your weekly routine.