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What Does HIIT Mean? Is it Good for Seniors?

HIIT is an acronym for an exercise workout called High Intensity Interval Training.  If you think this type of training is for Olympic or Ultra Marathon warriors, like I did, you are dead wrong.  HIIT might just be the best exercise for everyone, but especially those over the age of 65.  HIIT benefits include:

  • Improved cardiovascular health
  • Improved respiratory health
  • Fat reduction
  • Improved glucose control
  • Reversed signs of aging within cells
  • Counteracted muscle loss that accompanies aging and triggered growth of new muscle
  • Sharpened memory
  • Lower risk of dementia

According to the Mayo Clinic, “These changes were more dramatic in the over-65 exercisers compared with a group of people under age 30 who did the same workouts.  One possible takeaway: It’s never too late to start and see big gains.”

“The concept of “HIIT” is pretty simple.  You can do anything for 30 seconds or even a couple of minutes.  And then, given a chance to catch your breath, you’ll be able to do it again.  During a HIIT workout, you alternate between exerting a high and low level effort of exercise.”

 

Let’s get started!

You might be surprised at how you can incorporate a HIIT workout into your exercise regime.  But, before you start, (it goes without saying, but I’ll say it):

  • Get your doctor’s approval first and start out slowly.
  • Make sure you have supportive shoes and clothes conducive to exercise
  • Stop exercising if you feel weak or ill and seek medical attention
  • Drink plenty of water – walking to the bathroom could be a 30 second interval exercise if you walk fast enough!

Photo by Immortal shots from Pexels

 

Examples of HIIT for Beginners

Walking can be done on a treadmill, on long hallways, a mall and any other surfaces that are comfortable for you.  Here is an example of a HIIT walking workout.  As you grow stronger and as your endurance increases, you can continue to add longer more strenuous intervals.  The chart below appeared in a Fitbit.org blog  written by Gabi Redfood, an award-winning health and fitness writer.

HIIT Walking Workout

Week Warmup Interval Training Cooldown
1 5 min. easy walk 1 min. brisk walk/2 mins easy walk.  Do this 3 times 2-5 minute easy walk
2 5 min. easy walk 1 min. brisk walk/90 seconds easy walk.  Do this 4 times 2-5 minute easy walk
3 5 min. easy walk 1 min. brisk walk/1 min. Easy walk.  Do this 5 times 2-5 minute easy walk

 

 

 

Cycling is another way to integrate a HIIT workout.  Using the workout chart from above, apply the directions to cycling.  Your best bet is to stick to a stationary bicycle as you are less likely to lose your balance or fall.  If you are confident in your biking skills, you’ll want to stick to sidewalks and wide pathways dedicated to walkers and bicyclists and always wear a helmet.

 

Pictured below is a Pedego battery-powered tricycle.  This style of bike is perfect for seniors as it allows you to pedal as much as you would like and as fast as you like!  But when the going gets tough, and the ride becomes more strenuous  push a button for the amount of acceleration needed. Inclines can be hard on your knees, so this feature is very important  These bikes provide the stability needed for you to be able to enjoy the outdoors safely while getting in some HIIT!

www.pedegoelectricbikes.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/pedego-trike-1.jpg

For more information about HIIT:

mayoclinic.org/why-interval-training-may-be-the-best-workout-at-any-age/art-20342125

blog.fitbit.com/hiit/

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