A regime of strength training and HIIT cardio fights the effects of ageing
A new study has found that high-intensity interval training (HIIT) can delay the ageing process, in a way that medicine can’t.
Protein synthesis is generated within cells as a result of this kind of exercise, for the mitcochondria, where energy is produced, and for the ribosome, whose job is to synthesise proteins. This slows down the ageing process at the cellular level.
“Based on everything we know, there’s no substitute for these exercise programs when it comes to delaying the ageing process,” said Dr. Sreekumaran Nair, a senior author of the study published in Cell Metabolism. “These things we are seeing cannot be done by any medicine.”
Researchers took 36 men and 36 women from two age groups, a younger group (18–30 years) and an older group (65–80 years). They then divided them into three different exercise programs. One group performed high-intensity interval biking; another performed weight training; and the third combined weight training with high-intensity interval training (HIIT).
HIIT involves alternating short bouts of intense exercise with longer, less intense periods, allowing your body to recover in this time. For example, completing 30 seconds of intense, all-out work on the elliptical trainer, before slowing it down to a one-minute interval of slow, steady pace, and then repeating ongoing.
After the trial period, researchers took biopsies from the participants’ thigh muscles and compared the muscle cells’ molecular make-up, insulin sensitivity and lean muscle mass to samples from sedentary participants.
All three varieties of exercise improved health and fitness but in different ways. The high-intensity training increased the volunteers’ mitochondrial capacity — 49 per cent in the young group; 69 per cent in the old group — and also improved their insulin sensitivity, lowering their likelihood of developing diabetes.
As you might expect, the weight training was best at building muscle mass and improving strength, which the HIIT was less effective at. Strength naturally declines with age, so a combining the two seems to be a good choice based on this study.
“If people have to pick one exercise, I would recommend high-intensity interval training, but I think it would be more beneficial if they could do three-to-four days of interval training and then a couple days of strength training,” says Dr. Nair.
“There are substantial basic science data to support the idea that exercise is critically important to prevent or delay ageing,” says Dr. Nair. “There’s no substitute for that.”
Robinson, M. et al. (2017). ‘Enhanced Protein Translation Underlies Improved Metabolic and Physical Adaptations to Different Exercise Training Modes in Young and Old Humans.’ Cell Metabolism. Volume 25 , Issue 3 , 581 – 592. Published online March 7, 2017.