Wouldn’t it be great if you could exercise knowing you’re adding years onto your life not just life into your years. Well apparently you can! For years scientists have speculated about whether exercise can actually slow down the ageing process and finally the evidence is here. One form of exercise that seems to be outrating the others in this regard is interval training which involves alternating phases of low and high intensity activity. Some of you may already doing this form of training without even realising it. For instance if you go out walking and incorporate some hills then you are already doing interval training. You have the high intensity phase on the hill and then the lower intensity recovery phase once you reach the top. It’s been shown that interval training stimulates repair at a cellular level. As you get older the energy generating capacity of your cells mitochondria gradually decreases. The mitochondria are the powerhouses of a cell where energy is produced. However new research has shown that in some cases high intensity interval training may actually decrease the age related decline in the function of the mitochondria in your muscle cells. This is great news and is most likely to occur when interval training is applied in activities such as walking and cycling. Another benefit is an improved insulin sensitivity resulting in a reduced risk of diabetes. On a less positive note, the research does suggest interval training is not as effective at improving muscle strength so there’s no escaping including some weights/resistance exercise into your exercise program. Based on all this encouraging news where do you start? If you’re thinking of starting an exercise program, have a medical condition or restarting a program it’s a good idea to get checked out before taking the first step. From my experience I believe it’s good to establish a base of fitness first before incorporating some interval training especially if you plan to go down the path of some high intensity training.
My current plan consists of doing 3 cycles of 20 seconds of high intensity cycling with 2 minute recoveries in between. My workout time ends up being around 10 minutes once I’ve added in my warm up and cool down. I do this 3-4 times per week and walk for 20 minutes at a continuous pace at least 4 times per week. I also squeeze in some resistance exercise for 10 minutes at least 3 out of 4 days. This makes for quite a time efficient program. Time will tell what results I will generate but I’m excited about the possibilities. I wish you all the best with your program. Just remember that it’s the quality of exercise that counts most when it comes to getting good results!