We all know that a healthy lifestyle can hold back ageing – eat the right foods, avoid alcohol and cigarettes, get enough sleep, stay stress-free and do plenty of exercise. Up until now, we here at HELLO! thought that all forms of exercise were equal when it comes to holding back the years. But no, one form of exercise is better than the others at delaying ageing! Heard of HIIT? High-intensity interval training. Yep, new research by the Mayo Clinic published in Cell Metabolism has discovered that HIIT workouts can hold back the years at a cellular level, which is frankly, remarkable. Here comes the science bit…
Women’s Health report that the study looked at how exercise impacts the ‘mitochondria of our cells’, which is the source of our energy. Two groups of 36 men and women aged between 18-30 and 65-80 did strength training and a HIIT training program. Muscle mass improved in the strength training group but the HIIT group showed more significant mitochondrial improvement – 49% in the young group and 69% with the older group. Their heart and lung function and insulin levels also improved. Wow.
So what does a HIIT workout involve exactly? The workout is designed to raise your heart rate with periods of intense exercise, followed by short rest breaks or less vigorous activities. The sessions can last between four and 30 minutes, but the increased effort you put in makes it feel as though you’ve done an hour-long gym workout.
As well as the anti-ageing benefits of HIIT, other plus points include a faster metabolism, fat loss and a more flexible, shorter fitness session. Exercises like push-ups, burpees and lunges can all be done at home. Beware though – you need a basic level of fitness to start with so prepare your body before you start.