The Single Greatest Workout for Turning Back the Clock

New research reveals the amazing anti-aging effects of interval work.

As if you needed any more incentive to try your hand at high-intensity intervals training (HIIT). Studies have shown it's great for burning fat, strengthening your heart, lowering your stress, and increasing muscle endurance. Plus, the shorter length of HIIT workouts means you can fit more fitness in your life. And now, this: the booming exercise may also be the perfect anti-aging workout.

Research published in the journal Cell Metabolism, as reported by HealthDay News, shows that interval training improves mitochondrial function in your muscles. If that doesn't mean anything to you, here's a quick refresher in biochemistry 101: mitochondria are responsible for breaking down the nutrients in your body and turning them into energy. More energy equals more cellular respiration, which can halt muscle stagnation and even help get them growing like they did in your football-playing days. Changing musculature on a cellural level means your muscles will stay stronger and younger for longer.

The study involved 72 sedentary adults, split into three groups. Each group tackled a different exercise regimen: the first group worked on strength training; the second, moderate aerobic exercise; and the third, HIIT. Those that exercised in strength training showed improvements in—surprise—muscle strength. The aerobic exercise folks showed improvements in blood and oxygen flow. The HIIT group showed only minimal improvements in both categories.

However, the folks in the HIIT group showed notable gains in that all-important mitochondrial function. That's why Dr. Carl (Chip) Lavie, medical director of cardiac rehabilitation and prevention at the John Ochsner Heart and Vascular Institute in New Orleans, describes HIIT as "probably the best form of exercise."

Now, not every anti-aging workout needs to bring you to exhaustion. After all, intensity is something you can add to just about any workout. If you're simply walking, that means varying the pace for short bursts. If you're climbing the stairs at your office, make an effort to do double steps at certain moments. Anything you can do to vary your effort level and make your body work harder for shorter durations will pay off.

For its part, the study in Cell Metabolism made use of a moderate HIIT routine: four minutes of stationary cycling at maximum speed, and then three minutes of cycling at slow to moderate speed. Participants then repeated this four times.

If you're seeking a more intense HIIT anti-aging workout, here's a great moderate-level one:

  • Burpees for one minute.
  • Rest for 10 seconds.
  • Walking Lunges for one minute.
  • Rest for 10 seconds.
  • Pushups (add rotation at the top for increasing difficulty) for one minute.
  • Rest for 10 seconds.
  • Bicycle crunches for one minute.
  • Rest for 10 seconds.
  • Sprints for one minute.
  • Rest for 10 seconds.
  • Jump squats for one minute.
  • Rest for 10 seconds.

Repeat three times. The best part of that? You'll be done in exactly 21 minutes. Now get out there, chief. And for more on aging, make sure you're up to speed on the The Biggest Myth About Aging You Need to Stop Believing.