Well, here’s some good news! A new study from the Mayo Clinic in the US has found that doing regular high intensity interval training (HIIT) – aka, where you do short bursts of very intense activity, like sprinting, interspersed with periods of lower-intensity exercise, like jogging – can essentially stop cellular ageing in its tracks. In some cases, it may even rejuvenate the cells that repair damage in the body.
The study participants – 36 men and 36 women – were divided into age groups of 18-30 and 65-80 and assigned a three-month program of HIIT, strength training or a combination of the two. Muscle biopsies were taken before and after to measure how each workout impacted on the participants’ cells. HIIT was shown to have 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. The mitochondrial activity in your cells declines as you get older. This may increase fatigue, and reduce your muscles’ ability to burn excess blood glucose, which is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes. However, this decline was halted – and even reversed – in the older HIIT group.
In addition, people doing HIIT discovered improvements in their lung, heart and circulation health. The 18-30 group found that the amount of oxygen they could inhale and consume rose by 28% while the 65-80 group found a 17% improvement. Win-win-win-win!
Tempted to try it yourself? Check out our expert-approved guide to adding intervals to your running, cycling or swimming workout!