Should you try high intensity exercise?
First developed in the 1930s by Woldemar Gerschler, the popularity of high-intensity exercise grew in the 70s when Sebastian’s Coe’s father created short and intense routines for his son.
These days it’s called high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and has become a worldwide fitness trend. While many of the same steps remain, it has been refined to be suitable for any level from Olympic athletes to amateurs attempting to shed some weight.
Combining short intense training exercises with brief moments of rest, if you’re looking to get fit this year and don’t know where to start, here is some information about the pros and cons of HIIT as we age.
HIIT training focuses on quick bursts of exercise with short rests between, from 1 minute of exercise to 3 minutes of rest with you potentially doing this 10 to 12 times in one session. The compact nature of the routines makes it easy to slot into your life, but it’s not only efficient to your schedule but for your body too. As you continue the sessions your body will adapt and react well to the intense jolts of exercise and will begin to regulate and improve how you process energy.
Also due to the many of the workout routines being sprints, squats and shuttle runs, you don’t have to invest in expensive equipment or over-priced gym memberships before you begin!
You can lose weight
Even though your body will burn fat during the workout, the real trick to weight loss is due to Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC). Often called Afterburn, EPOC is the effect that occurs 24 hours after a period of exercise.
Intense exercise causes our bodies to burn through more oxygen than normal and during the period post-workout it must replace this expended oxygen. To make this happen, during the resting state after a session, our body burns through our fatty reserves for energy, meaning you can lose weight without even exercising.
You could feel ten years younger
Everyone knows that as we age our bodies slow down, this is mostly down to our heart beating slower and our lung capacity decreasing which causes the oxygen that flows around our body to take longer to reach our muscles. While EPOC can increase the oxygen in our systems, intense exercise can also work wonders in keeping us looking and feeling younger in other ways.
Mitochondria is found in the cells throughout our bodies, its job is to convert food energy in into a chemical form that can be used by our muscles. Naturally as we grow older our Mitochondria levels decrease but this can be combatted by intensive exercise which has been shown to increase Mitochondria levels. This allows our bodies to convert energy more efficiently, meaning we could look and feel years younger.
Taking it at your own pace
For all the benefits that have been attributed to HIIT, there are also risks of taking on a new high intensity regime and pushing your body beyond its limits.
Exercise-induced rhabdomyolysis is caused when you undertake too much exercise too quickly, with unfit or elderly people the most vulnerable. It can cause your muscle fibres to breakdown and release toxins into your body, which can affect both your heart and kidneys.
While this is uncommon and there are many positives that HIIT can bring to your life, if you are just starting out, worried or suffer from any medical conditions, you’re best contacting your local GP before you begin any new exercise routine to make sure you’re promoting your health rather than hindering it.
Have you tried a high-intensity workout?
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Rachel - Silversurfers Assistant Editor
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