Looking for an exercise that can trim inches from your waist while adding years to your life? You’ve come to the right place.
HIIT for Burning Fat
We all know that exercise can help you stay younger by giving you more strength and energy to stay physically active and do the things you love. One physical therapist named Maureen Hagan even calls fitness the ‘serum of youth’. She explains that it can affect how you look, the way you move and even the way you feel.
But there is one specific type of exercise that fairs better than the rest when it comes to its ant-aging properties. According to a new research, high-intensity interval training – popularly known as HIIT – can actually add years to your life when performed regularly. You might be wondering if ramping up the intensity of your workout session can actually be counterintuitive for your health as you grow older, but there is a scientific reason why fast-paced exercises can benefit you in old age.
There is no doubt that HIIT is one of the sweatiest but the most effective workouts for fat loss. This type of training consists of a number of high intensity workouts performed at a really fast pace, alternated with short recovery periods. Because of its intense nature, HIIT has been proven to torch more calories than steady-state cardio such as jogging, walking or cycling.
But besides its fat-burning benefits, HIIT is also great for boosting metabolism, retaining muscle mass and, according to a new study by Mayo Clinic, reverse aging at a cellular level.
The ground-breaking research, which first appeared in the journal Cell Metabolism, was conducted on 72 adult participants from two different age groups: the first group consisted of individuals between 18 and 30 years of age whereas the second consisted of much older adults from 65 to 80 years.
All participants were assigned to three different exercise routine for the next 12 weeks. The first group performed only HIIT, the second group strength training and the third performed a mixture of HIIT and strength training.
The HIIT workout plan was undoubtedly the most rigorous of all three. Participants were required to do 4 four-minute intervals on stationary bikes, each interval followed by a rest period of 3 minutes. The strength-training group only worked out twice a week, alternating between upper and lower body exercises. The last group, which combined HIIT with resistance training, exercised 5 days in a week without any intervals.
After 12 weeks, researchers measured participants’ state of health through various measurements including lean muscle mass, insulin sensitivity, oxygen capacity and leg strength. They also took tissue samples from the participants’ bodies before and after the four-month experiment. The results showed that three groups had gained muscle mass from their exercise routines but the groups that performed HIIT got the biggest anti-aging benefit at a cellular level.
Increasing Mitochondrial Capacity
The biggest difference researchers noticed was the change in mitochondrial capacity, or the cells’ ability to turn oxygen into energy. In younger participants, the capacity increased by 49 per cent whereas the change was much more dramatic in the older group where volunteers experienced a 69 per cent boost in mitochondrial capacity.
As people get older, their cell organelles including ribosomes and mitochondria deteriorate. But aerobic fitness can actually reverse the damage in these structures, increasing the cell’s lifespan and thereby making us live longer.
The higher a person’s mitochondrial capacity, the more easily their body can transport oxygen to cells to maintain healthy cellular function. PhD professor, Paul Arciero, who wasn’t directly involved in the study, says that the functioning of these mitochondria affect our health and since HIIT enhances mitochondrial capacity, it makes absolute sense that people who perform this exercise are able to reverse signs of aging and live longer.
Co-author of the study, Matthew Robinson, says that any exercise is better than no exercise, but you want to choose a workout that keeps you fit while reversing damage at a cellular level, you should boost the intensity of your cardio sessions to achieve your goal.