High-Intensity Interval Training Could Help You Live Longer

High-intensity interval training, or HIIT, is all the rage in the fitness world right now. Many exercise enthusiasts tout its benefits, including more efficient calorie burning and improvements in metabolism. And now there could be one other big reason to love HIIT — it may help reverse the aging process.

Rather than working out at a moderate, steady pace for a longer period of time, such as an hour, HIIT switches things up. This type of interval training encourages vigorous, sprint-inspired exercises in very short bursts of 30 seconds to a minute, followed by short rest periods—before repeating it all over again and finishing several rounds in as little as 10 to 15 minutes.

Researchers recently published a study in the journal “Cell Metabolism” that examined what was happening at the cellular level of participants who engaged in HIIT compared to other forms of exercise. Their findings suggest that HIIT led to improvements in age-related decline in muscle mitochondria.

Thirty-six men and 36 women participated in the study. The researchers divided them by age, with one younger group of those between ages 18 and 30, and one older group of individuals between ages 65 and 80.

The participants in both age groups were instructed to follow one of three 12-week exercise programs — a HIIT program, a weight training program or a combination of both. The HIIT program involved cycling in bursts three days a week and treadmill walking two days a week.

Not surprisingly, all participants in every group improved their fitness levels by the end of the 12-week period. But those who followed the HIIT program experienced the greatest benefits when researchers examined changes at the cellular level.

The mitochondrial capacity, a response to greater energy expenditure, increased by 49 percent on average in the younger group and by as much as 69 percent in the older group. This process slows down as we age, but the older group that completed the HIIT program showed improvements comparable to the cells found in bodies of younger people. The weight training program and combined HIIT plus weight training didn’t seem to affect the mitochondrial capacity much at all.

Both young and old who completed the HIIT program also experienced improvements in their insulin sensitivity, which lowers the risk of diabetes. In addition to that, there was an increase in ribosome activity, which helps build muscle.

The researchers concluded that HIIT may be very effective for reversing age-related changes in cells, but an article published by Popular Science regarding the study stresses that there are still too many caveats to make such a conclusion without further investigation.

While HIIT is a fantastic form of exercise for anyone who is able and willing to do it, studies that examine the effects of exercise at the cellular level don’t tell the whole story and fail to consider other factors to people in a practical sense — such as their desires to build muscle, slim down, and so on.

More research is needed, but that doesn’t mean you can’t start a HIIT regimen now or in the near future. Other recent research has found that people tend to prefer HIIT over moderate-intensity exercise, so if you’re looking to switch things up in your workout, HIIT could be a seriously great solution.

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Photo Credit: Thinkstock

63 comments

Sonia M

Thanks for sharing

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Maria R
Past Member 1 years ago

Thank you for sharing

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Aaron F
Past Member 1 years ago

I've already lived long...and I intend to keep going strong...

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Sue H
Sue H1 years ago

Thanks for sharing.

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Lisa M
Lisa M1 years ago

Noted.

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Lisa M
Lisa M1 years ago

Noted.

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Marija M
Marija M1 years ago

tks

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Jan S
Past Member 1 years ago

Thank you

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Elena Poensgen
Elena Poensgen1 years ago

Thank you

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Elena Poensgen
Elena Poensgen1 years ago

Thank you

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