A new study has identified a potential mode of exercise that may help optimize the reversal of any unwanted signs of aging, high-intensity interval training.
High intensity interval training involves short bursts of very intense activity, interspersed with recovery periods of lower-intensity exercise.
Exercise, particularly high-intensity interval training, encourages your cells to make more proteins to feed their energy-producing machinery and this arrest the aging process.
Matthew Robinson, an assistant professor of kinesiology at Oregon State University and his colleagues at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., report that high-intensity interval training showed the biggest benefits at the cellular level, especially in the older adults.
The researchers studied 72 men and women, half of them aged 18 to 30 and the other half 65 to 80. The volunteers had no chronic illnesses and were assigned to three different exercise programs:
- High-intensity intervals of four-minute sprints on a bike, interspersed with light pedalling for three minutes.
- Strength training with weights.
- A combination of interval training and strength training.
Participants in the combination group were also sedentary for three months as a control.
As we age, the number of mitochondria, the powerhouses of our cells, in muscles tend to drop and they don’t function as well.
Interval training boosted the ability of the mitochondria within cells to generate energy by 69 per cent in older volunteers and by 49 per cent in the younger group.
High-intensity aerobic exercise gives robust improvements at the muscle cell level.
“Any exercise is better than being sedentary,” said Dr. Sreekumaran Nair, senior author of the study and a diabetes researcher at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. However, Nair noted that high-intensity interval training, in particular, is “highly efficient” when it comes to reversing many age-related changes.
The study was published in the journal Cell Metabolism.