How to Reverse Aging – It's Not What You Think | VitaMedica
How to Reverse Aging - HIIT

How to Reverse Aging – It’s Not What You Think

Everyone’s looking for the best way to reverse aging, trying everything from anti-aging vitamins and creams to lasers and even growth hormone injections.

 

But aging is a natural process, and the most effective way to turn back the clock may not necessarily be something you have done but rather something you do.

 

“High intensity interval training (HIIT) reversed some changes in cells linked to aging.”

 

One recent study found that certain types of workouts may be able to reverse the signs of aging at a cellular level.  Top 10 Tips for Defying Aging

 

Researchers discovered that while exercises like vigorous weight training, stationary cycling, and interval training all have a positive impact on physical fitness and insulin sensitivity, high intensity interval training (HIIT) reversed some changes in cells linked to aging.  Exercise: The Anti-Aging Elixir

 

In older muscle cells, damage tends to be substantial because older cells cannot regenerate easily and become weaker as their energy-producing mitochondria diminish in strength and number. 

 

But for the individuals who followed a HIIT program, there was an increase in the number and health of their mitochondria.  This effect was even more apparent in older participants, who saw a 69% increase in mitochondrial capacity, versus younger subjects who saw a 49% increase. 

 

Since mitochondria are responsible for producing a chemical called ATP that provides energy necessary for all cell functions, an ability that deteriorates with aging and physical decline, these positive effects of HIIT on cellular activity were promising.  Physical Fitness Slows Cognitive Decline With Aging

 

HIIT training also boosted activity in more genes related to mitochondrial function and muscle growth.  In younger participants, there were changes in 274 genes, compared to 170 genes for moderate exercisers and 74 genes for weight lifters.  And in older interval trainers, there were changes in 400 genes versus 33 for weight lifters and 19 for moderate exercisers.

 

These results are important for older adults who will develop sarcopenia, a condition where muscle mass is lost with age and lean muscle mass turns into fat.  Exercise, and especially interval training, can help protect against this decline.

 

So where to begin now that this anti-aging secret’s out?  First, we have to understand what exactly this workout entails.

 

What is High Intensity Interval Training?

High intensity interval training is a training technique that calls for bursts of high levels of exercise followed by shorter recovery periods.  The exercise intervals call for about a 70-90% max heart rate, while the recovery periods are at about 60-65% max heart rate.  10 Secrets to Maintain Muscle Mass & Strength

 

One example of a HIIT workout might be to run, cycle, or row according to a plan like this:

 

30 seconds sprint/30 seconds recover
1 minute sprint/1 minute recover
2 minutes sprint/2 minutes recover
4 minutes sprint/4 minutes recover
2 minutes sprint/2 minutes recover
1 minute sprint/1 minute recover
30 seconds sprint/30 seconds recover

Finish with a 10-minute cool down

 

The idea is that a high-intensity workout increases the amount of oxygen the body needs during exercise.  The resulting oxygen shortage causes the body to require and seek more oxygen during recovery, an effect called Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC), which may explain why intense exercise helps burn more fat and calories than regular aerobic and fixed-rate workouts.

 

How to Start HIIT (The Right Way)

Because HIIT can be extremely strenuous, it’s important to understand that this type of workout isn’t appropriate for everyone.  If you have a chronic health condition or haven’t been exercising regularly, you should consult your doctor and see if this type of workout is prescribed for you.

 

Once you get the OK, you should work with a professional personal trainer to develop a customized workout based on your personal metrics.  An effective and safe HIIT program requires the use of a heart rate monitor to measure your heart rate throughout the session, as opposed to a one-size-fits-all approach of engaging in certain workout activities, times, and sets.

 

Exercising at an increased heart rate and keeping it too high for too long can lead to serious injuries.  Developing a safe and personalized program with a professional, along with the option to customize it with exercises you enjoy (like running or lifting weights), will help you maximize your workout and minimize your injury risk.

 

Anti-aging doesn’t stop at how you look – it’s got everything to do with how you feel and how your body functions at its most basic, cellular level.  To truly reverse aging, you’ve got to put work into your workout.  It’s never too late to start!