Benefits of Interval Training

Benefits of Interval Training

Julian Whitaker, MD

Everybody knows the importance of exercise, but what type of exercise is best? Walking or jogging? Slow and steady or fast and furious? According to new research, the answer is both, together. Specifically, short bursts of intense exercise followed by slower-paced activity—aka interval training.

To test the effects of interval training on older adults, researchers studied a group of healthy but sedentary seniors (age 70-plus). The seniors trained just three times a week, with each session lasting only 38 minutes and consisting of a 10-minute warm-up, 4 four-minute intervals of high-intensity exercise with three minutes of lighter activity between each burst, and ending with a three-minute cool down.

After 12 weeks, the sedentary seniors not only enjoyed significant weight loss, but their cardiac output increased, their average resting heart rates decreased by 10 beats per minute, and they experienced 12 and 9 percent reductions in systolic and diastolic blood pressure, respectively. The lesson here is clear—whatever your age or fitness level, even short bouts of intense exercise can have dramatic benefits! So whichever activity you choose, bump it up for a few minutes, slow it down for another few, and repeat.

Modified from Health & Healing with permission from Healthy Directions, LLC. Photocopying, reproduction, or quotation strictly prohibited without written permission from the publisher. To subscribe to Health & Healing, click here.

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