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Interval Training For ALL

Interval Training For ALL

Whether you are 17 or 70, most of us have come across the thought: “what type of exercise is right for me?”

A recent study released by the New York Times sheds light onto how certain types of exercise can effect us all the way down to the cellular level. As we age, our muscle cells are slower and less likely to regenerate due to our diminishing mitochondria. However, research suggests that certain types of workouts can take back what aging can sometimes take away. 

In the study, two groups of sedentary men and women (under 30 and over 64) were divided up into four different exercise categories: 1.) vigorous weight training 2.) interval training (on bikes) 3.) moderate exercise (30 minutes on the bike at a moderate pace and light strength training) 4.) no exercise. After 12 weeks, all 8 groups were retested for their improvements in fitness, ability to regulate blood sugar, and changes in gene activity/mitochondrial health from a biopsied muscle.

Expectantly, the groups that performed more resistance training saw greater gains in strength, whereas the interval training groups saw greater gains in endurance. However, there were also a few unexpected results among the interval training groups.

The younger interval training group saw cellular changes in 294 genes, while the moderate exercise group altered 170 and the strength training group 74. Even more surprisingly, the older interval training group saw cellular changes in 400 genes, compared to only 33 for weight lifters and 19 for moderate exercisers.

These results suggest that exercise, especially more vigorous interval training, can almost reverse the negative toll that aging takes on muscle cells. Further, this seems to hold even more truth among an older population.

So, what type of exercise is right for you? The overarching answer is that any exercise, more often that not, is better than none. However, interval training, particularly among elder individuals, can have profound effects that go beyond what the eyes can see. 


Stephanie Spoto, CSCS

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