HIIT: High Intensity Interval Training for older adults


Blog written by Josh Willcocks

The Health Benefits of High-Intensity Interval Training

While many people know that regular exercise is essential for good health and well-being the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows that a significant number of Australians are still sedentary or have low levels of activity. In 2014/15, 12 million Australians over the age of 15 were found to be sedentary or were participating in low levels of exercise. These numbers represent 65.3% of Australians aged 15 and over with 33.8% being sedentary and 31.5% with low levels of exercise.

One of the most common reasons for a lack of activity is not having the time to fit it into our busy schedules. For this reason, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) is a good option as the associated health benefits are vast for the small amounts of time put in.

What is High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)?

High-intensity interval training (HIIT), is a form of interval training, alternating short periods of intense anaerobic exercise with less intense periods of recovery. Not only is HIIT time efficient, there are some unique benefits associated with incorporating it into your routine.

  • HIIT can improve your aerobic fitness as much as traditional endurance training with less time committed per session.
  • HIIT has been shown to reduce blood pressure and heart rate, with greater reductions in hypertensive individuals that are overweight or obese.
  • HIIT training can reduce blood sugar and increase insulin sensitivity which is very important for those at risk or diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus.
  • HIIT can reduce the effects of ageing at the cellular level by having a positive effect on mitochondria and ribosomes, which are important for maintaining healthy cell function and tend to deteriorate with age.
  • Fat loss is comparable to traditional endurance exercise, even with less time allocated to each session. Reductions have also been seen in visceral fat, the fat associated with an increase in disease risk.
  • While weight training is the gold standard for increasing muscle mass, HIIT training is effective for the preservation of muscle mass while losing body fat. Less active individuals may still see some positive gains in muscle.
  • HIIT increases your metabolism hours after a session due to excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC). After a bout of HIIT exercise, our body must restore itself to its resting state. Energy is required for this process which is why there is an increase in oxygen consumption and energy expenditure.

The benefits of HIIT are numerous and can be an effective way to reach your exercise goals for those that are time poor or prefer a shorter and more efficient exercise session.  And the good news is, it’s not just for young people. Studies have shown that people that are sedentary gain great physiological benefits from HIIT training.

HIIT at Well Over 40

At Well Over 40, we specialise in treating mature people, or those that aren’t comfortable in a traditional gym setting and have adapted programs to be age and condition appropriate.  Our small group HIIT session runs on a Thursday night at 5.15pm and will soon expand to Mondays.  It’s a small group session so there are a maximum of 5 in a class.  You will work at your own level, and you will receive personal attention from our exercise physiologists.  You do need an individual session with the EP before attending so that we can give you an individual plan.  If you have a chronic disease or illness talk to your GP about the possibility of individual treatment funding under Medicare.  Health fund rebates may be applicable if you are covered for exercise physiology.


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