High intensity workouts: Fountain of youth?

A recent Mayo Clinic study called high intensity interval training (HIIT) a possible fountain of youth because it reverses the aging process by increasing cellular activity. The workout alternates between intense bursts of activity and fixed periods of less intense exercise.

While many training programs come and go, HIIT, or others similar to it, have been around for a long time. Until recently, HIIT existed mainly in sports performance — but today its crossed over to the fitness realm and gained popularity. 

One of the biggest reasons why so many people are attracted to HIIT is that it provides a quick way to fit a workout into a busy schedule. 

Customize your workout
There is no single formula for success with HIIT. “High intensity” is relative to each specific person’s goals and fitness level. The intensity that’s easy for one person can pose an extreme challenge for others. 

When designing a HIIT program, instructors consider the person’s age, exercise history, any pre-existing chronic diseases or disabilities, past or present injuries and desired goals.

The number of workouts per week is limited with HIIT, as well as the recovery time during and after each workout.  Again, this varies person to person.

It is very easy to overtrain with HIIT and this inevitably leads to overuse injuries. A qualified trainer can help determine the best exercise parameters.

Any workout is better than none
When someone describes a specific exercise routine as a “fountain of youth,” it often signals they want to sell you something. Any type of exercise or movement contributes to better aging. Regular exercise not only decreases the chance of developing chronic diseases or disabilities, it also helps to maintain functional independence later in life. 

Different forms of exercise are like different tools in a tool box; they each have a specific purpose and are appropriate for specific tasks. Many people seek a magic bullet workout that will make them stronger or feel younger. However, it doesn’t exist. Consistency remains the key part of any exercise routine.

Salem Health offers a HIIT-inspired class called STRONG by Zumba. Find more information online at www.salemhealth.org/chec or call 503-814-CHEC (2432).

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