Interval training can boost your cell strength and your overall health

Interval training can boost your cell strength and your overall health

Looking for a way to slow down the aging process and get fit? Look no further than H-I-I-T, or “hit.”

High-intensity interval training, or HIIT, can help your body’s cells make more proteins that create energy while also pumping the brakes on getting older. While all exercise helps, interval training — bursts of intense aerobic activity during a workout — produce the best results, according to a Mayo Clinic study published in the journal Cell Metabolism.

The researchers enlisted men and women ages 18 to 30 and ages 65 to 80. They mixed them up, then put them in three groups. One group did strength training twice a week, another cycled and lifted weights for five days a week. A third group — the HIIT folks — did three days of cycling with high-intensity bursts and two days of walking on a treadmill.

Before and after each session, researchers measured each person’s body mass index, quantity of lean muscle mass and insulin sensitivity, an indication of diabetes. While everyone’s overall fitness improved after three months, the HIIT group saw the best results at the cellular level. The young members saw a 49 percent rise in proteins that are vital to the production of mitochondria, the cell’s energy powerhouses; older teammates had a 69 percent jump.

The researchers said both younger and older people can fight disease by boosting their mitochondrial functions and building muscle. Some older volunteers who did interval training seemed to reverse the age-related drop in both mitochondrial function and muscle-building proteins.

The takeaway? If you’re not exercising, get started. If you are, take it up a notch using 30-second bursts. It will be time well-spent.

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