Mayo Clinic study suggests new rigorous training method can slow aging process

Posted at 1:07 PM, Mar 31, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-31 14:10:36-04

A rigorous form of exercise known as High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) can slow the aging process, according to researchers at Rochester, Minnesota's Mayo Clinic.

In a study published in the journal Cell Metabolism, doctors found that HIIT training, which involves short spurts of high-intensity activity like sprinting followed by short intervals of rest, encourages cells to make more proteins. That arrests the aging process.

The study signed up 72 men and women, in age groups 18 to 30 and 65 to 80, for either HIIT, strength training, or workouts incorporating a mix of strength training and cardio.

Each group spent three months on its designated exercise program.

It found that younger people participating in HIIT reported a 49 percent increase in mitochondrial capacity. The older group enrolled in the HIIT program saw a 69 percent jump in the same category.

Mitochondria are responsible for producing the molecule that transports chemical energy within cells.

They're often likened to the batteries that power cells. The more quickly they wear out, the sooner the aging process begins.

“Based on everything we know, there’s no substitute for these exercise programs when it comes to delaying the aging process,” said Dr. Sreekumaran Nair, senior author of the study and a Mayo diabetes researcher, in a press release. “These things we are seeing cannot be done by any medicine.”

The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health,

At the Wisconsin Athletic Club in Brookfield, personal trainer Bryan Oleszak said he often incorporates HIIT exercise into routines with clients or group classes.

"It's a nice way to add something new to someone's weekly exercise routine," Oleszak said.

He added HIIT can also be more effective at burning fat than a steady jog, or bike ride, at one pace.

Oleszak said beginners should start at a low intensity and gradually work their way up over time.

Of course, it's advisable to consult a doctor before starting an exercise routine.

"You know your body better than anyone else," Oleszak said. "So listen to your body, know your limitations, and don't go so extreme right away." 

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