For middle-aged and older adults who may not want to run, new research in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings (2019; 94 [12], 2413–26) shows that high-intensity interval walking effectively improves health and fitness. The protocol for this type of walking is 3 minutes at 70% of VO2max followed by 3 minutes at 40% of VO2max, repeated for 5 or more sets.

Shinshu University researchers in Japan studied 679 male and female adults with a mean age of 65 for 5 months. Participants walked a minimum of 4 days per week, and data were recorded every 2 weeks.

The results? Both health and fitness measurements improved as training times increased up to 50 minutes per week, but progress plateaued with more training. Study authors noted that this type of exercise is beneficial and easy to maintain and that many participants remained highly motivated and did more than the suggested minimum.