HIIT really is the top workout star of the last few years. Already linked to boosting brain power, rapid fat burning and saving you oodles of time, it’s not surprising there are even more benefits lurking. Now it seems HIIT can also help you retain your youth.
We already know that regular physical exercise can help you stay young. So what is it about HIIT that is particularly beneficial?
A study by US scientists found that the short bursts of intense activity, interspersed with lower-intensity exercise, boosts our mitochondria – the energy-producing capacity of our cells. The ability of our mitochondria to generate energy normally dwindles as we age. The study suggests that HIIT can help reverse this reduction.
The study also tested people who did weight training, and a combination of weight training and HIIT. While these participants saw an increase in muscle strength and cardio fitness, it was the HIIT group which saw the huge boost in mitochondrial capacity.
It seems that exercise makes our cells age far more slowly than they would if we were couch potatoes. It’s all about your cells’ telemores, which are the little plastic caps that sit at each end of our DNA strands and protects them, just like shoelaces. Every time a cell replicates, telemores get shorter, eventually getting too short to function properly.
Studies show that people with the shortest telemores – and therefore the most cellular ageing – came from people with sedentary lifestyles. So don’t sit around too much!
Definitely not. Regular exercise has many other benefits from shedding body fat to reducing the risk of disease, depression and death. HIIT may be great for boosting mitochondrial activity, but weight training is the best for building muscle strength, also known to reduce as we age.
While HIIT is very powerful, a multi-faceted approach to health is the real key to youthfulness. Make sure you eat a healthy, wholegrain, minimally-processed diet – try eating like a Victorian peasant! Keeping your stress levels in check is also vital, so relaxing gym classes like tai chi and meditation are a good idea.