The anti ageing workout
07 Jun 2017
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Andrew Cate

The anti-ageing workout

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Are some types of exercise better than others when it comes to ageing well? Personal trainer Andrew Cate reviews the science and offers his tips of how to put it into practice.

Exercise and living longer

The mechanisms by which exercise boosts health and helps you to live longer are many and varied, they include:
  • Improved sensitivity to insulin
  • Weight management
  • Counteracts the harmful effects of inactivity, and prolonged sitting
  • Helps to counteract age-related muscle loss
  • Helps to manage blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and support heart health
  • Combats the age-related risks for disease and disability

The science of ageing

One key factor in ageing is the cellular charges in our muscles. The energy factories inside our muscle cells (called mitochondria) change as we get older. Several mitochondrial, insulin signalling, and muscle growth-related genes are down-regulated with age. 

The capacity for exercise to reverse some of these changes, and the specific type of exercise that works best, has been the subject of recent research published in Cell Metabolism.

The study examined muscle adaptations and cellular changes in both young and older adults with three different types of exercise. 

It was found that High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) in young and older adults increased oxygen capacity, insulin sensitivity, mitochondrial respiration, fat free mass and muscle strength. 

In contrast, resistance training increased insulin sensitivity and fat free mass, but not oxygen capacity or mitochondrial function. 

Circuit training triggered small gains in fat free mass and oxygen capacity, with modest gains in insulin sensitivity, primarily in young people. 

Ultimately, and while all types of exercise offered benefits, it seems that HIIT was more effective than circuit training or resistance training at reversing the cellular changes associated with ageing.

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Exercise for a longer life

No matter how old you are, healthy ageing is built upon the lifestyle choices that you make every day. Being active or inactive can both be seen as a choice. 

Choose to be active, and follow these 3 tips to fine tune your program to maximise the anti-ageing benefits of exercise.

Include HIIT

Chalk up another positive study for interval training. The cellular changes and muscular adoptions that occur from HIIT can help to counteract the effects of ageing. It's a good investment of your exercise time in terms of Longevity compared to resistance training or circuit training. Aim to include interval training as part of your exercise routine at least 2-3 times per week

Manage your HIIT

There are some important factors to consider to ensure you get the most out of HITT, such as:
  • Don't go too hard too early
  • Build yourself up gradually into high intensity training over several weeks
  • Warm-ups and cool downs are very important for HIIT, as you are pushing yourself harder than normal
  • Alternate HIIT days with lighter days or stretch rest / days to help your body recover

Be consistent

The health benefits outlined in the study above came about from a three-month training program. This is not a quick fix. Build exercise into your life on a regular and consistent basis for lasting results.

Source: Robinson MM et al. Enhanced Protein Translation Underlies Improved Metabolic and Physical Adaptations to Different Exercise Training Modes in Young and Old Humans. Cell Metab. 2017 Mar 7;25(3):581-592. doi: 10.1016/j.cmet.2017.02.009.