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By Paul Villaire FNP-BC

As we age we are subject to a certain amount of muscle loss, which begins in our 30’s. The decline can lead to up to 30% muscle mass loss over our lifespan. Loss of strength, flexibility, balance and mobility can greatly affect quality of life and can lead to falls and injury. High intensity interval training (HIIT) works because muscle cells have to work more efficiently. Chemical channels in the muscle cells have to adjust how they regulate calcium to compensate for higher energy production and consumption. The increased demand encourages muscle growth.

All is not lost, we can mitigate and potentially recover some muscle loss. You do not have to get into bodybuilding or power lifting to reap the benefits. Research suggests that on a cellular level HIIT increases protein production for mitochondria the work horses of the cells even up to age 80.


HIIT involves short bursts of intense activity paired with lower-intensity recovery periods. Besides being a shorter regimen than most continuous workouts, aerobic high-intensity interval training allows you to burn more calories and increase your heart rate more than you could with a steady cardio workout.

HIIT involves short bursts of intense activity paired with lower-intensity recovery periods. There are a plethora of HIIT workout options, from HIIT classes where you lift heavy objects quickly, to training sessions with plenty of jumping jacks, skipping rope, doing lunges or burpees. Timing is important, allowing your body the proper recovery time is needed so that it can perform effectively.


HIIT helps lower blood sugar levels and reduces abdominal fat, thus lowering your risk of developing insulin resistance or Type 2 diabetes. A single HIIT session does a better job of modulating the spike in blood sugar that typically occurs after a meal than a continuous moderate-intensity workout does among overweight adults. With HIIT workouts, increased muscle utilization and energy is needed, this creates a post-workout void where blood sugar is can be metabolized. HIIT also can be beneficial for those who already have Type 2 diabetes.


If you are new to HIIT, go slow and ease them into your regular exercise routine until you can do two to three sessions per week.. Maybe include some mini HIIT into your regular day. Take a minute away from the computer or sitting and do some squats to get your heart rate up. Or do some fast sets of climbing stairs instead of eating that donut on your coffee break. These mini workouts help your body adjust to the demands of increased blood flow and oxygen intake of high intensity workouts.

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