There are many exercise techniques targeted for various goals such as gaining strength and mass, losing weight and staying fit as we age. This article looks at the last type. There is an issue with endurance training – such as staying on a tread mill in the fat-burning zone for 30 minutes – if your intention is to exercise for an anti aging benefit (rather than only burning fat, for example). Exercise literature has shown that this type of aerobic training is not the best option for both weight loss and aging in a healthier way. The reason is that they are not designed to promote your body’s natural production of growth hormone that will actually make us age more slowly. So what type of exercise should you use? It’s called interval or burst training and it is proven to maximize health and fitness levels as we age more so than things like paced aerobic training can. Science has proven that it triggers our body’s healing response which allows cells to regenerate more efficiently causing tissue to grow stronger. If you’re interested in getting rid of some extra fat, interval training has be shown to burn 3 times as much fat as slower aerobic activities. Basically it is the opposite of endurance training and it drastically lowers the time it will take you to improve your fitness level.
– How does it work? For shorter periods, such as 30 – 60 seconds, you are exercising vigorously raising your pulse to near its safe maximum level. This, for those who consider themselves to be very out of shape could be as simple as walking up a set of stairs two times. At the top if you have an elevated heart rate and are breathing more deeply you’ve just completed a successful burst train. Ideally, you would repeat this short routine 3 – 4 times with no more than about a 3 minute rest period between sets. This will give your heart rate a chance to lower but you’ll want it to also remain slightly elevated as you continue into your next set.
– Why is this known to work? Exercise research indicates that whatever you’re burning during an exercise routine you burn the opposite of for up to 36 hours afterwards. So, if you focus on exercises that burn sugar, your body will tend to metabolize more fats for the next day and a half.
– Why does this happen? This type of short, yet highly intensive interval training is known to elevate levels of growth hormone and testosterone. These are the two best, natural hormones your body can produce to help you slow down your body’s biological aging clock. Here’s a quick routine that anyone can do in their home: All you need are 2 dumbbells. While holding them by your sides do repetitive squats and when you rise continue lifting the weights to a point just above your head. You can start with even 5 pound weights, moving progressively upwards in weight as you feel stronger. When you first try this routine if you’re really out of shape you should feel winded within 60 seconds. The key is to stop when you feel your heart rate has elevated and your finding it slightly more difficult to breathe. You should also notice a lactic acid burn when exercising this way. Before repeating the next set make sure you rest to the point where you’ve got your breathe back. Then just repeat for another 60 seconds or so and rest again for 2 – 3 minutes. The entire routine should take you no more than about 12 – 15 minutes. That’s it. You don’t even need to do this on a daily basis. Studies indicate that doing this exercise every second day actually provides more health benefit than doing it daily. What you want to do here is really boost your growth hormone cycle. There are other strength building exercises that you can do on your in-between days – for your biceps, triceps, abs and calves that won’t interrupt this cycle from occurring.
– Resistance training: This is also a form of interval or burst training that is known to raise hormone levels that will help us to age more slowly. You can eventually add resistive training to the same days that you do your burst training. Again, on your off days you would only work smaller muscles. The resistance training would include your larger muscle groups such as chest, back and thighs. Many people may not even need this additional step of resistance training to increase hormone levels, even using the dumbbells every second day is known to lead to large percentage gains in strength, increased growth hormone levels, improvements to the immune system, improved recovery times, higher testosterone levels and better overall feelings of well being. (By Thom W O’Connel)