Recently the Mayo Clinic published a study called “Cell Metabolism” detailing the benefits of senior HIIT( High-Intensity Interval Training) which is intense exercise followed by short rest periods.  The main reason you do this type of training is that it keeps your heart rate elevated for longer periods to burn more fat in less time as opposed to steady state training.   While I am personally very familiar with HIIT training since I used to run track and all sprinting workouts are HIIT, how does this apply to exercise for seniors.  Well since reading the Mayo clinic’s study, I have read different articles expressing that recommended a word of wisdom like being appropriately warmed up, expecting longer rest periods and being medically cleared from you doctor which is all good advice. However, I found that there weren’t many concrete examples of how you should implement the HIIT training.

Before we get into my suggestions for exercise for seniors, there are a few things I must mention about senior HIIT.  Firstly HIIT training can be applied to both strength and cardiovascular workouts.  Also for HIIT training to work, you have to find a good balance between how hard you work and resting.  With all that being said, please read my article about senior HIIT, to see how you can apply it to your workouts.

  1. Walking- Since most seniors are more prone to walking than running when exercising, I will base my advice on that.  If you walk for exercise at the same pace for an extended period like 30 minutes, try breaking that 30 minutes into intervals of 2 or 3 minutes of intense walking followed by a 1 minute of slower paced walking.  You can repeat this cycle until you have completed 30 minutes.  The first thing you should notice is that the workout will feel harder if you get the intensity right.
  2. Play a sport like tennis – Tennis is a popular sport when it comes to exercise for seniors. The one element that tennis has that applies to HIIT training is short bursts of activity followed by a quick rest. Since tennis also forces you to stop/start, change directions and move at a quick pace; it is a great activity for senior HIIT.
  3. Work faster and lift heavier- The one issue I have when trying to get a lot of seniors to lift weights is, many of them don’t want to lift heavier.  I’m not suggesting that a senior lift something that will hurt them, however, in the event that you don’t challenge yourself, you won’t get the right intensity for HIIT.  To apply HIIT to strength training, I suggest you work at an intensity that is a challenge in each exercise and only take breaks to drink water before moving to the next exercise. 
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