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Interval Walking in Midlife and Beyond

Brief increases in walking intensity boost health and fitness.

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High intensity interval walking

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.

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Shirley Archer-Eichenberger, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, is an internationally acknowledged integrative health and mindfulness specialist, best-selling author of 16 fitness and wellness books translated into multiple languages and sold worldwide, award-winning health journalist, contributing editor to Fitness Journal, media spokesperson, and IDEA's 2008 Fitness Instructor of the Year. She's a 25-year industry veteran and former health and fitness educator at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, who has served on multiple industry committees and co-authored trade books and manuals for ACE, ACSM and YMCA of the USA. She has appeared on TV worldwide and was a featured trainer on America's Next Top Model.

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