The specificity for this fast-paced workout is alternating short bursts of exercise with quick recovery periods. This is a way of torching more calories in less time than traditional steady-state training sessions.
The HIIT has been shown as a very effective way of boosting metabolism, building muscles, melting fat, and more. According to Mayo Clinic researchers, it can even reverse signs of aging at the cellular level.
In the study, published in the journal Cell Metabolism, were involved 72 sedentary adults in two age groups— older (65 to 80) and younger (18 to 30). The participants had a task to complete one of three 12-week workout routines: strength training with weights, high-intensity interval cycling, or a combined strength training and cycling plan.
The most rigorous of the three plans was the HIIT cycling plan, which required
– Three days of cycling (four, 4-minute HII broken up by 3-minute recovery periods),
– Two days of steady, brisk treadmill walking.
The strength-training group performed
– Upper and lower body exercises just twice a week,
The combined training group worked out
– Five days a week but without intervals, and for less time.
What was measured? The changes in the volunteers’ leg strength, oxygen capacity, lean muscle mass, and insulin sensitivity.
Researchers also biopsied tissue samples and analyzed cells from the volunteers’ thighs before and after the three-month experiment. When the experiment ended (after 12 weeks), all three exercise groups had improved aerobic capacity and gained lean muscle, but those who did high-intensity interval training (HIIT) got the biggest benefit at the cellular level.
Older volunteers experienced 69% boost in mitochondrial capacity—the cell’s ability in taking in oxygen and producing energy, while the younger volunteers experienced a 49% of it.
Ribosomes and mitochondria are organelles that influence metabolism and aerobic fitness but tend to weaken as people get older. Having that in mind, focusing on keeping these structures healthy can reverse some signs of aging, confirmed researchers.
According to Paul Arciero, PhD, professor of health and exercise sciences at Skidmore College, the people who have the greater mitochondrial capacity, they have a greater capacity to breathe in, transport, and utilize oxygen, which is important for perform physical activities and maintains healthy cell function.
In addition, the HIIT cycling group saw improvements in insulin sensitivity, which shows that this type of exercise may reduce diabetes risk.
The HIIT also increases the activity of ribosomes, the parts of the cell that build proteins needed to create muscle cells.
However, when it comes to the strength or lean muscles, HIIT did not build as much mass as strength-training did. Dr. Nair the study wasn’t designed to make specific recommendations. He does suspect that three to four days a week of HIIT plus a couple days of strength training may be the best way to slow the down aging process.
According to co-author Matthew Robinson, PhD, a former Mayo Clinic researcher, adding short bursts of higher intensities is a great way to gain more benefits from exercise. He recommends finding a walking path that includes hills or pedaling faster for a short period for people who like to bike, cautioning that people who are beginners should progress gradually over several weeks.
Even all types of exercise are good, according to Arciero, HIIT seems to have additional cellular benefits, for aerobic fitness, maintaining muscle, and insulin sensitivity as we age.
Robinson, also emphasized that some activity is better than none to promote health during aging, and recommends adding intervals, which helps the body to adapt to new physical strains.
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