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Vigorous Exercise Benefits Older Adults

HIIT offers both health and longevity benefits.

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HIIT and longevity for older adults

High-intensity interval training improves fitness and well-being among adults over age 70 and may even increase longevity, according to a 5-year study by Norwegian University of Science and Technology researchers in Trondheim, Norway. The longitudinal study compared the effects of 5 years of supervised exercise training—either HIIT or medium-intensity continuous training—with independent fulfillment of physical activity guidelines by study participants. The 1,567 research subjects included both men and women (mean age = 72.8 years).

Data analysis showed that all types of physical activity were beneficial. However, those who did HIIT showed a slightly lower likelihood of dying during the 5-year study, indicating that HIIT may boost lifespan. Study authors noted that those participating in HIIT showed larger health benefits than those who did moderate-intensity exercise and recommended that “future guidelines for physical activity, at least for older adults, should be more specific in requiring that at least part of the physical activity be performed with high intensity.”

Find the study in The BMJ (2020; 371 [m:3485]).

See also: HIIT and Memory in Older Adults


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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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