If you’ve read our recent post on The Importance of Knowing Your Heart Rate, you can see how excited we are about the topic of Heart Rate. Our next article, Finding Your Heart Rate will help those of you that may be unaware of exactly how to find and use the information we provided in our first article. Now we’ll talk about how to improve your resting heart rate and 3 HIIT training benefits.
We found these AARP articles that list 3 HIIT training benefits that we think you’ll enjoy (see article quotes below):
- 5 Key Ways to Lose Weight After 50
- Ultimate Workout to Reverse the Effects of Aging
- High-Intensity Interval Training: Why It Just May Be a ‘Miracle’ Workout
Can you think of other HIIT benefits?
Before I purchased my Fitbit, I had no idea how important heart rate is as an indicator of our heart health. And that’s what we want to share. Now keep in mind, I have a Fitbit Alta HR so that’s what these articles talk about, and Fitbit’s are great, but you don’t need to use a Fitbit or a Fitbit app. You can find inexpensive trackers that you can find on Amazon. And while the tracker is a great tool to capture the data, the app that shows historic information is even more effective. Use them together to monitor and consistently improve your fitness level.
The best way to improve your Resting Heart Rate
Now that we’ve been thinking about our heart rate, it just makes sense to take it to the next level.
And looking back at history, I can see that several times in the past, I’ve achieved my goal with a resting rate of 68 bpm. What I need to do now is to pay attention to what I am doing and understand why it can fluctuate between 75 and 68 over the course of several months. Was it stress? Was I exercising more on the low days, or the day after I exercised? What type of exercise was I doing? Cardio (endurance), Stretching (flexibility, Weights (strength), or was I focused on balancing?
So, how we can improve our Heart Rate from being in the ‘ABOVE AVERAGE’ category to the ‘GOOD‘ category we mentioned a few weeks ago?
The Answer: HIIT
After a normal cardio training session, the metabolism swiftly slows down afterwards. When you use HIIT, the body actually continues to burn energy for many hours after the short but highly intensive training sessions. This is also called the “afterburn-effect”.
What is HIIT and how does it work? ∼ by Holmes Place
So, What is HIIT?
High-Intensity Training (HIIT) is any exercise routine where you push yourself to the max performance for short bursts. After a warm-up aerobic exercise (at least 3 minutes), you would up your pace until you are too out of breath to speak. A beginner might try 20 seconds of intense workout followed by 2 minutes of recovery. The total workout time would last about 10 minutes for a beginner. Intermediate and advanced HIIT workouts last about 30 minutes in total and would include longer periods of intense burn, followed again by your normal pace. These short bursts of intensity are the key to the benefits of HIIT training.
Think You’re Too Old for HIIT? Think Again…
Being in my early 60’s, I figured I was past trying HIIT. My hip osteoarthritis makes jumping out of the question, so I thought I’d pass and leave HIIT to younger people. Then I found some great articles on AARP about HIIT exercises. Not surprisingly, the articles makes it sound simple, but it is not.
I currently exercise 3-4 days a week for about 30 minutes a day. And I do try to get the four (4) exercises types into my week, but I don’t go crazy (if you know what I mean…) and in the 3 ½ years I’ve been exercising, I never tried HIIT. So after reading an AARP article, I was very interested. But please note that it is difficult to do and you really have to push yourself, but in a good way.
3 HIIT Training Benefits …
On Weight Loss
Beyond strength training, if you can take your overall exercise program up a notch, do so.
Older adults who did high-intensity interval training (HIIT), which entails short spurts of high-intensity exercise, not only lost weight but also had less DNA damage to muscle cells. And this helped trigger growth of new muscle.
High-intensity interval training — or HIIT — has become very popular in the last decade as a fast-paced routine that alternates between a short burst of intense aerobic exercise, such as sprinting or cycling at full speed, followed by a brief lower-intensity period. This pattern is repeated, usually for about 15 to 20 minutes, although some say even half that long is beneficial.
But the new study, published in Cell Metabolism, finds interval training has additional benefits for older adults, namely reversing signs of aging within cells.
May be a Miracle Workout
Perhaps most exciting of all: HIIT seems to be able to turn back the clock on a cellular level, improving the function of mitochondria (the battery cells of the body). And the older you are, the greater its impact, according to studies. Example A: Robert Marchand, who turns 107 this month.
When he was 101, Marchand set a world record … But today, Marchand appears to be getting even stronger than he was when he set the record – so much so, in fact, that in the past few years his peak pedal power has increased by an incredible 40 percent. When measured last year, Marchand had the fitness level of the average 50-year-old, thanks to HIIT.
Are you convinced that HIIT Training has many benefits?
My intent was to use the information I found in AARP to try HIIT so I could report back to you on the benefits of HIIT training. Well, I did 2 Sundays (my endurance day) and 30 minutes on the treadmill and then went on vacation. I sat in an airport for an hour and then a plane for 4 ½ hours. So I knew that I would have to start over when I got back home.
But when I went over my stats, the results were surprising enough to share. While I didn’t see the results that will get me to that coveted ‘GOOD’ Heart Rate, it did show that even my brief (not entirely successful) attempt at HIIT improved my resting heart rate.
Let’s take a look.
- 5/5 – 71 bpm – 30 minutes on a lateral elliptical (previous HR was about 71 pretty consistently)…
- 5/9 – 69 bpm – assuming that the effect wasn’t going to be instantaneous, my resting HR dropped 2 points (because of my HIIT training on Sunday?)
- 5/11 – 70 bpm – a travel day and I was pretty much sedentary all day – rose a point
- 5/12 – 71 bpm – vacation – relaxing by the pool – up another point
- 5/13 – 72 bpm – more relaxation – up another point
- 5/15 – 73 bpm – more relaxation – up another point
- 5/18 – 74 bpm – back to sitting in an airport for a few hours before boarding a plane for another 4 ½ hours – up another point
The Difference Just 2 Weeks Can Make
In less than 2 weeks my Heart Rate went from a low of 69 “ABOVE AVERAGE” to “AVERAGE”. This, I believe, is related to lack of exercise, sleeping in, and eating restaurant food all week. And interesting enough this week, back at work and being more diligent about my exercise and nutrition (homemade food with less fat and salt), my resting HR went from 73 on Sunday to 70 on Thursday.
Set Goals and Make it Fun!
We’ll continue to work HIIT into our exercise routine and report back to you about our efforts to make the “GOOD”, or maybe even someday an “EXCELLENT” resting heart rate category. But in the meantime, with a solid goal I can make my HIIT exercises challenging and fun. Stay tuned!
Give HIIT exercising a try and be sure to see The Importance of Knowing Your Heart Rate for Heart Rate Charts so you know your rates before you start. Then track them.
Have you tried HIIT training? Do you like it? Did you feel any of the HIIT training benefits mentioned above?
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Note: This information is our personal opinion and should not be taken as medical advice. Many factors can influence your ability to safely exercise. Please be sure to see your Doctor before starting or increasing your exercise routine. Your doctor will advise you about what exercises are right for you.