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High-Intensity Interval Training - Is It Safe As We Age?

Updated: Nov 15, 2023

Exercise Physiologist, Shirit Rosenberg shares how effective HIIT is for women in menopause and post-menopause

By Shirit Kamil-Rosenberg, EdD, ACSM CEP Exercising as we age is very beneficial. It helps strengthen bones, decreases risk factors (diabetes, high blood pressure, and cholesterol), and improves mood to mention a few. However, we sometimes wonder if engaging in high-intensity interval training (HIIT) as we age is safe. Research has shown that besides the benefits mentioned above, HIIT improves: 👉 Functional capacity (being able to do daily activities) 👉 Muscle power (jumping) 👉 Overall physical performance 👉 Weight loss The optimal prescription is higher load resistance or strength training to treat sarcopenia (precursor to osteoporosis) and improve balance. The most benefits for good health are moderate to vigorous intensity.
"Research has shown HIIT workouts to be effective in menopausal and post-menopausal women, improving bone health, reducing fragility, and improving menopausal symptoms.", Shirit Rosenberg, Exercise Physiologist
Intensity is how hard you are working during exercise, usually measured by heart rate. Vigorous is higher than 80% of peak heart rate (equation specifically for women: 206 – (0.88 × age)). HIIT is known as vigorous intensity. The greatest effect of high-intensity interval training is 85-95% peak heart rate for 1-4 intervals for a short amount of time. Research has also shown HIIT workouts to be effective in menopausal and post-menopausal women, improving bone health, reducing fragility, and improving menopausal symptoms. Also, the benefits of HIIT as we get older are important and could be included in your workout or as a supplement to other exercises. Importantly, HIIT has also been shown to be safe and well-tolerated for fall prevention. In conclusion, engaging in HIIT is a safe type of exercise at any age. It is however important to pay attention to your body. If you have injuries, it is important to understand that you might have limitations and how you can work around these limitations. If you are new to HIIT, please let your trainer know this. Ola Ka Ola trainers can give a lot of alternatives for people with limitations. Remember that if something doesn’t feel right while exercising that needs further evaluation, please contact a medical professional.
 

About Shirit Kamil-Rosenberg, EdD, ACSM CEP

A certified clinical exercise physiologist who has a doctorate in exercise physiology. Her
expertise is working with people with chronic diseases (diabetes, heart disease, stroke, etc.) and the benefits of physical activity. Shirit has worked in clinical and research settings working primarily with older adults instructing cardiac rehabilitation in the past as well as conducting cardiopulmonary and clinical stress tests. Her passion is to let people know and show the importance of physical activity to everyone. Shirit is married and has 4 children. She enjoys spending time with her family and staying active when possible. Ola Ka Ola fits her busy schedule by allowing her to take early classes and join on demand when possible. ------ References: 1. Izquierdo M, Merchant RA, Morley JE, Anker SD, Aprahamian I, Arai H, et al. International Exercise Recommendations in Older Adults (ICFSR): Expert Consensus Guidelines. J Nutr Health Aging. 2021;25(7):824-53. Epub 2021/08/20. doi: 10.1007/s12603-021-1665-8. PubMed PMID: 34409961. 2. Elboim-Gabyzon M, Buxbaum R, Klein R. The Effects of High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) on Fall Risk Factors in Healthy Older Adults: A Systematic Review. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021;18(22). Epub 2021/11/28. doi: 10.3390/ijerph182211809. PubMed PMID: 34831565; PubMed Central PMCID: PMCPMC8618957. 3. Dabrowska-Galas M, Dabrowska J, Ptaszkowski K, Plinta R. High Physical Activity Level May Reduce Menopausal Symptoms. Medicina (Kaunas). 2019;55(8). Epub 2019/08/14. doi: 10.3390/medicina55080466. PubMed PMID: 31405242; PubMed Central PMCID: PMCPMC6722698. 4. Alzar-Teruel M, Aibar-Almazan A, Hita-Contreras F, Carcelen-Fraile MDC, Martinez-Amat A, Jimenez-Garcia JD, et al. High-intensity interval training among middle-aged and older adults for body composition and muscle strength: A systematic review. Front Public Health. 2022;10:992706. Epub 2022/10/18. doi: 10.3389/fpubh.2022.992706. PubMed PMID: 36249241; PubMed Central PMCID: PMCPMC9557068.

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