There are umpteen reasons why exercise can boost your life expectancy. One of the primary ways is through weight loss, which in turn staves off a host of health complications, such as heart disease. Research continues to shed light on other ways physical activity can enhance your health.
All training types improved lean body mass and insulin sensitivity, but only HIIT and combined training improved aerobic capacity and mitochondrial function for skeletal muscle.
Mitochondria are membrane-bound organelles present in almost all cells. They are central to the maintenance of life and the gatekeepers of cell death.
A decline in mitochondrial content and function are common in older adults.
The study also found that HIIT improved muscle protein content that not only enhanced energetic functions but also caused muscle enlargement, especially in older adults.
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The researchers concluded that HIIT significantly enhances the cellular machinery responsible for making new proteins.
That, in turn, contributes to protein synthesis which can reverse the adverse effects of ageing.
Adding resistance training, however, is important to achieve significant muscle strength.
“We encourage everyone to exercise regularly, but the take-home message for ageing adults that supervised HIIT is probably best, because, both metabolically and at the molecular level, it confers the most benefits,” said K. Sreekumaran Nair, a Mayo Clinic endocrinologist and senior researcher on the study.
“HIIT reversed some manifestations of ageing in the body’s protein function – but increasing muscle strength requires resistance training a couple of days a week.”
Other important tips
To maximise the benefits of exercise, you should eat a healthy diet.
Eating a healthy, balanced diet is an important part of maintaining good health, and can help you feel your best.
“This means eating a wide variety of foods in the right proportions, and consuming the right amount of food and drink to achieve and maintain a healthy body weight,” explains the NHS.
The Eatwell Guide shows that to have a healthy, balanced diet, people should try to:
- Eat at least five portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables every day
- Base meals on higher fibre starchy foods like potatoes, bread, rice or pasta
- Have some dairy or dairy alternatives (such as soya drinks)
- Eat some beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other protein
- Choose unsaturated oils and spreads, and eat them in small amounts
- Drink plenty of fluids (at least six to eight glasses a day).
If you’re having foods and drinks that are high in fat, salt and sugar, have these less often and in small amounts, it says.
“Try to choose a variety of different foods from the five main food groups to get a wide range of nutrients,” advises the health guidelines.
According to the NHS, most people in the UK eat and drink too many calories, too much saturated fat, sugar and salt, and not enough fruit, vegetables, oily fish or fibre.