As time goes on, our cells lose their ability to regenerate effectively, leading to the physical changes we associate with aging. We may think this is irreversible, but is that truly the case? Research at the Mayo Clinic indicates not, suggesting that exercise could help reverse the effects of aging. Specifically, it seems that HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training), could be the answer.
During the study, volunteers spanned across two age groups, one between 18 and 30, and the other between 65 to 80. These groups were then divided into three: one received HIIT, another received weight training, and the third group was given a combination of both. All volunteers had to engage in the regimen for three months, and muscle biopsies were taken before and after for comparison. HIIT training involves short bursts of intense physical activity, mixed with periods of lower-intensity exercise, and this mix can boost the mitochondria’s ability to generate energy in the cells. Cellular aging causes the body to have more difficulty with specific functions, such as regulating blood sugar levels. However, after three months of regular HIIT, the participants saw a reverse, meaning their muscles could burn excess blood sugar more effectively. Aside from these less obvious, cellular effects, the training also provided a major improvement in lung, heart, and circulation health. The amount of oxygen the younger group could inhale rose by 28 percent, and rose by 17 percent among the older volunteers. Among the group that was given weight training instead of HIIT, no mitochondrial or respiratory improvements were observed - the best benefit received was gaining muscle mass. In the group that received a combination of both, oxygen consumption rose by 21 percent among older volunteers, and showed mixed results. It seems as if the fountain of youth lies within the realm of aerobic exercise, rather than strength conditioning. This also shows that you can reap the benefits of this type of exertion whatever your age. Although the greatest gains are seen among the younger age group, this study shows that it’s never too late to turn back the clock.