Did you know that quick, intense exercise could very well put the brakes on aging?
Sitting is the new smoking. Just standing more each day can help you burn off more calories and will work your muscles and bones more. For anyone who’s interested in warding off an early demise, there’s also one form of exercise, specifically high-intensity interval training (HIIT), that may give you better shot at staying around on earth a little longer.
HIIT doesn’t have to be something you need a gym or expensive facility to partake in. It’s basically any kind of workout that gets your heart rate moving, whether it’s walking, jogging, biking or doing something in a pool. It depends on quick bursts of intense exercise with short intervals at a moderate pace. It’s interval training.
The remarkable part of this approach to exercise is that it’s been proven to slow down the aging process at the cellular level.
The medical journal Cell Metabolism had a publication a month ago about a study where some sedentary volunteers were put on a HIIT training program. What it showed is that this type of exercise not only helped them feel better, but there was a marked increase in mitochondrial activity in their body. The mitochondria are known as the energy powerhouses in human cells. They act like tiny digestive systems, doing the job of converting food nutrients into pure cellular energy, allowing each part of a cell’s functions to fire up and get to work.
The study showed that different age groups responded differently to this type of exercise. Volunteers that were between 18 and 30 years of age saw a 49-per-cent boost in their mitochondrial capacity, but the volunteers who were between 65 and 80-years-old group experiences a whopping 69 percent increase in mitochondrial activity! So mitochondrial recovery is a key to the puzzle.
The study also proved that the senior citizens definitely saw greater gains in mitochondria’s energy production. When the mitochondria are moving around, doing their job, then overall cellular functions improve and revitalize the human body. Not only do endurance capacity and cardiovascular fitness get measured by how well the body is metabolizing, but the study suggests this could provide breakthrough evidence on how longevity now gets measured.
There has been a longtime belief that your mortality depended on your endurance capacity, especially in mortality due to diabetes, hypertension, hyperlipidemia (or fatty blood cells) or cardiovascular disease. This study seems to reaffirm that notion.
Another finding in the study had to do around the type of physical activity that was performed. There was a group that stuck to only weight training and another group that combined not only weight training but also a combination of aerobic activity. The group that took on the HIIT program showed the greatest percentage of recovery in mitochondrial function.
The researchers didn’t focus on evaluating how any specific high-intensity exercise, like long-distance running for example, might compare against an HIIT regimen. Between the two types of activity, the HIIT activity regularly brings the heart rate down repeatedly over the course of moderate intervals where the long-distance running would not. That could be another good study.
Nevertheless, even though the goal of the study was not to provide guidelines on fitness, it did seek to better understand the underlying mechanisms in the way the body responds to different forms of exercise and based on the remarkable findings in the study, it did show that some level of high intensity provides the key to the way the mitochondria recover. It suggested that HIIT workouts could very well rejuvenate other parts of the body’s cells too.
The protective caps at the tips of each chromosome are called telomeres. They tend to shorten after each cell division. It turns out that when these telomeres shorten to a certain length then the body’s cells actually decrease and eventually completely lose their ability to divide. When the body’s cells lose their ability to divide, then there’s no renewal going on and body ages rapidly into stagnation and eventually death.
Another study showed that this process can be reversed. In a 2015 German study, a group of volunteers performed a HIIT program over a six month period. The study noticed that there was an increase in an enzyme that replenished the telomeres and reversed the cycle of rejuvenating the body’s chromosomal activity. In this study, the HIIT workouts were performed three times a week, consisting of a 10-minute warm-up then four alternating intervals each going through a fast and easy run of three minutes, then a cool-down of 10-minutes.
The final mention is about another study in 2016 at McMaster University which took a sedentary group and put them on stationary bikes three times a week. One group rode for 10 minutes with only one high-intensity minute during that ten minutes. The other group rode a moderate pace for 45 minutes. The study showed that the improvements in both aerobic fitness and blood-sugar levels were similar in both groups. So it looks as though there is a way to reverse aging, and it’s through HIIT.