Sunday, June 23, 2019

How HIIT Keeps You Young

Let’s get real - everyone wants to stave off the aging process as long as possible and tap into the fountain of youth. But before you reach for the botox and start guzzling green juice, consider taking up HIIT.

HIIT or high-intensity interval training has been proven to help turn back the clock and boasts a whole range of other health benefits, too. Whether you are looking to slow down the aging process mentally or physically, HIIT workouts are fast becoming a favorite among the 50+ set to keep themselves looking and feeling young.

Read on as we take a look at the rise in popularity of this new workout craze, explain what it is and how it can help you turn back the clock.

What is HIIT?

High-Intensity Interval Training is no new thing, but the booming health and fitness industry has seen this form of exercise explode in popularity. Another factor contributing to HIIT’s success is the rise of fitness chains promoting HIIT based workouts, think Barry’s Bootcamp, Orangetheory, F45, and SoulCycle.

Far from being limited to one workout, HIIT is essentially any form of exercise that combines bouts of intense physical activity with rest periods - essentially pushing the body to the limit, resting and repeating. HIIT workouts can take many forms, including weight and endurance training, cycling, running or any combination of the above.

How does it work?

Many of the benefits of HIIT come from pushing the body to its limit and significantly elevating the heart rate in the process. Let’s take a look at the many ways HIIT can help you turn back the clock.

It increases oxygen capacity in cells

In studies undertaken on individuals embarking on HIIT and other exercise regimes, those who had been performing the HIIT workouts presented considerable increases in mitochondrial capacity - the process by which the body’s cells take in oxygen to produce energy.

As we age, our cells’ mitochondrial capacity typically begins the decline. By helping increase
mitochondrial capacity, HIIT workouts help cells take in oxygen and transport it around the body to provide energy and maintain normal cellular function.

It burns fat

As in any anaerobic workout, HIIT training not only burns fat while you’re exercising by turning it into fuel, the intensity of the workout means your body continues to burn fat after the fact as it works to repair muscle and return to its natural resting state. Talk about the workout that keeps on giving!

It prevents cell death

OK, this one sounds a little shocking we know, but stay with us. Ever heard of telomeres? Well, you can think of these guys as little caps that sit on the end of your chromosomes, protecting them from all sorts of damage. Environmental and lifestyle factors like poor diet or smoking can work to shorten these telomeres effectively leading to a shortened lifespan of the cell and, eventually, the human.

The good news is, high-intensity exercises like HIIT have been proven to prevent the shortening of telomeres and prolong the lifespan of cells.

It improves heart health

Another benefit of HIIT is the impact on stroke volume. By ramping up your cardiovascular system, interval training literally gets your blood pumping, increasing the amount pumped from the left ventricle of the heart per beat.

It increases muscle growth

Muscle growth can seriously slow as we get older. Interval training has been proven to stimulate several bodily functions that lead to muscle growth. By putting a large amount go stress over major muscle groups, HIIT stimulates the release of human growth hormone, testosterone and a hormone similar to insulin that works to repair muscles and encourage new growth.

In addition to promoting new muscle growth, HIIT training can help prevent the deterioration of existing muscle. Interval training has a proven ability to boost the activity of ribosomes, a cellular particle that plays a large role in stopping muscular deterioration.

It helps your body recover 

The intensive nature of HIIT produces a lot of metabolic waste which are removed by the body during rest periods. The repetitive nature of interval training encourages the body to adapt to quick turnaround time and repair itself quicker to be ready for the next bout of exercise. In a real-world context, this primes the body and ensures it is better able to recover from falls and other incidents that can affect older people.

Is that all? 

But wait, there’s more. One of the most appealing things about HIIT is that you don’t need to do it every day to see results. In fact, some studies have shown that in order to get the best results it’s most beneficial to perform HIIT workouts a maximum of three days per week with rest days in between.

Is HIIT just for older people?

Absolutely not! While studies have shown the age-defying benefits are more pronounced in older adults, interval training brings big benefits to those of all ages. In fact, younger adults with no preexisting health issues may be able to get more out of their workout by pushing themselves further. Mentally, the benefits of establishing good habits while young are huge. Physically, in addition to promoting fat loss and cardiovascular health, muscle growth tends to be easier for younger adults and is easier to maintain over time than grow in old age.

Are there any risks?

As with any exercise, HIIT workouts can post some risk to those with pre-existing medical conditions or limited heart function. Especially for older individuals, it’s a good idea to consult your doctor before beginning any new type of workout.

If you are concerned about overexerting yourself, try wearing a heart monitor to measure your heart rate and start slow, building up to more and more challenging workouts, taking regular breaks as required.

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