High Intensity Interval Training, or HIIT, is a very popular exercise regime, but many people have assumed that it is only for elite, highly trained athletes. Not so! Researchers at the Mayo Clinic have found that HIIT has even bigger benefits for older adults!
The idea of HIIT is very simple. You exercise hard for a short while, rest for a bit, and then do it again. You alternate between a short bout of intense exertion and a nice easy recovery.
The astonishing results of the Mayo research study were that some age-related deterioration of muscle cells had actually been reversed on people over 65 that did HIIT. This is huge! HIIT seemed to change a cell’s DNA in a way that boosted the muscle’s ability to produce energy. It also triggered the growth of new muscle, helping to counteract the inevitable muscle loss that is part of the normal aging process.
These changes were more dramatic in the over-65 exercisers compared with a group of people under 30. We rule!
If you are considering giving HIIT a try, you should definitely check with your physician first. However, many studies have shown that intervals can be safe and beneficial for people with diabetes, heart disease, and more.
If your physician gives you the green light, start off easy! Begin your workout with a nice easy warm up (as always). If you enjoy walking, try walking briskly for a couple of minutes, followed by a slow stroll until you recover. You can do the same sort of interval on a stationary bike or any piece of cardio equipment. Gradually increase the number of intervals you do, but again, don’t overdo it at first!
I recommend that you do just one or two HIIT workouts a week, combined with light or moderate exercise on the other days. You need to give your body time to rebuild bones and muscles to increase strength.
HIIT is not for everyone, but you may want to give it a try, now that we know how beneficial it is for us Older Wiser folks!
Sue Grant holds numerous certifications within the health and wellness industry.
- Certified as a personal trainer by the ACE
- Certified as a Master Instructor for the FallProof Program
- Certified by the Arthritis Foundation
- Certified in Older Adult Fitness by the American Institute of Fitness Educators
Sue has also studied personal training and group fitness through U.C. San Diego’s Fitness Professional Certificate program. Click here to find her collection of DVDs.