A few months ago, The New York Times published an article titled “The Best Exercise for Aging Muscles.” It’s a short article and worth a read. But here’s the summary: Intervals Rule.
Trainers have known this for years. Especially trainers that focus on speed for cyclists and runners. In these sports, if you want to get fast, you have to do intervals. Otherwise knows as High Intensity Interval Training.
What’s really interesting about the study cited in the article is that intervals made the most difference for the older people in the study. The intervals affected more than 400 genes! That’s pretty amazing. Compare that to weight lifting affecting 33 genes, and moderate exercise affecting 19.
But intervals are really the best exercise for anyone, at any age.
Are intervals fun? Well…um... Let’s just say you can make them fun.
Long, long ago, when I ran some, I would do intervals occasionally and hated them. Now I do them on my bike and they can be fun. You don’t have to be super regimented about them. You know… 2 minutes full on, 2 minutes rest, 2 minutes full on, 2 minutes rest... etc. What I do is find a hill to climb and attack it. I go as hard as I can and when I get to the top, I take it easy for a few minutes. Next hill I come to, I attack that one. Especially if there’s a time I’m trying to beat on Strava, it’s fun.
Everyone is at different fitness levels so maybe the right intervals for you are going from a stroll to a really fast brisk walk for a minute or two, and back to a stroll. Or maybe climb some stairs quickly, and walk back down slowly. As you do more and get in better condition (which happens very quickly), you can do other things to make them more challenging.
You don’t have to do them often. In fact you shouldn’t do them more than a couple times a week. Your body needs the recovery time.
When you’re doing them - and having fun :-), just remember… Intervals Rule!