This High-Intensity Workout Reverses Aging

Vinicius Amano

There’s a specific workout that can be used to reverse the body’s aging process, according to a study from the Mayo Clinic. Known as high-intensity aerobic interval training, or HIIT, this exercise routine is characterized by short bursts of activity at peak or near-peak intensity.

In the study, an equal number of men and women were recruited and then split into two groups: young (18–30 years) or older (65–80 years). Participants were then divided into three groups, each of which would focus on a specific workout: HIIT, resistance training (RT) and combined training (CT), which includes elements of both HIIT and RT, but does not match the intensity of either program.

Over a period of 12 weeks, the HIIT group did three days per week of cycling (with high-intensity sets followed by low-intensity sets) and two days per week of treadmill walking. The RT group did sets of lower and upper body exercises twice a week, and the CT group was sedentary during the first 12 weeks and then began a regimen of cycling five days a week and weight lifting four days a week.

At the end of the exercise period, all three groups were in better physical condition, but only the HIIT group showed results that indicated the reversal of age-related decline. In the younger group, HIIT increased mitochondrial respiration, which helps create energy, by 49 percent, while the older group saw gains of 69 percent. The HIIT group also improved their insulin sensitivity and saw reversals in age-related decline due to an increase in ribosome activity, which helps the body synthesize new proteins. As we age, cell damage occurs when damaged proteins cannot be replaced with new ones, causing the functional decline of our muscles.

“Exercise training, especially high-intensity interval training, enhanced the machinery (ribosomes) to produce proteins, increased the production of proteins and enhanced protein abundance in muscle,” Dr. Sreekumaran Nair, the paper’s senior author, told CNN.
Furthermore, these insights may also allow researchers “to develop targeted drugs to achieve some of the benefits that we derive from the exercise in people who cannot exercise,” Nair said.