The Rejuvenating Powers of High-Intensity Interval Training

“HIIT it! We’re often told that exercise is the best medicine, and it now seems that regular high intensity interval training (HIIT), in particular, is great for reversing the declining ability of our cells to generate energy.

HIIT involves short bursts of very intense activity, interspersed with recovery periods of lower-intensity exercise. Sreekumaran Nair at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, and his colleagues assigned groups of people aged between 18 and 30 and between 65 and 80 to three months of interval training, weight training or a combination of the two. Muscle biopsies were taken before and
afterwards to measure the impact of these regimes on their cells.

Interval training boosted the ability of the mitochondria within cells to generate energy by 69 per cent in older volunteers and by 49 per cent in the younger group.” (Coghlan, 2017, p.11).

Highlights included (Robinson et al., 2017):

  • HIIT training:
    • Also saw surges in lung, heart and circulation health.
    • The amount of oxygen they could inhale and consume at full tilt rose by 28% in the younger group and by 17% in the older group.
  • Weight/Resistance training:
    • No corresponding change among weight trainers.
    • Addition of new muscle mass.
    • None of the mitochondrial and respiratory benefits.
  • Combination training:
    • Boosted oxygen consumption by 21% among older exercisers.
    • The combination regime generally produced intermediate results.



Coghlan, A. (2017) Interval Training Rejuvenates Ageing Cells. New Scientist. 11 March 2017.

Robinson, M.M., Dasari, S., Konopka, A.R., Johnson, M.L., Manjunatha, S., Esponda, R.R., Carter, R.E., Lanza, I.R. & Nair, K.S. (2017) Enhanced Protein Translation Underlies Improved Metabolic and Physical Adaptations to Different Exercise Training Modes in Young and Old Humans. Cell Metabolism. 25(3), pp.581-592. doi: 10.1016/j.cmet.2017.02.009.


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