High-intensity interval training (HIIT) should be incorporated into all of our lives without a doubt. There is quite a bit of research to back up the benefits of HIIT training, but this study out of Australia is one of the first to note the important benefits of HIIT training even for aging women.

Unfortunately, many assume that higher intensity exercise isn’t necessarily beneficial or safe for older people − so false.

The Study

This study published in the international journal of midlife health and beyond, Maturitas, supports the necessity of high-intensity training in women over 50.

Professor Debra Anderson and Dr. Charlotte Steib co-authored a paper that reviewed 5 years of the effects of exercise on mental and physical health in women over 50.

They found that women who exercised at higher intensities (huffing and puffing levels) for 30-45 minutes per day for at least 5 days per week significantly reduced their rate of death, disability and touted better physical function.

Professor Anderson, who works closely with older women through specialized women’s wellness programs, said older women were capable of undertaking a range of activities beyond simply walking.

The Take Home Point

There is an unfortunate stigma that older people, men and women, cannot perform high-intensity exercise and activities. The most common recommendation is to simply walk, which may not offer enough significant health benefit. Of course, walking is better than nothing, but this generation is really capable of doing more.

Now, high-intensity training for people over 50 doesn’t have to necessarily include sprints, squat jumps and other really intense exercises. High-intensity training just must include exercises that push you out of your comfort zone and make you breathe hard.

The other obstacle to quickly address is pain during exercise. The best advise here is to find exercises that you can do with intensity that do not hurt your joints. You may consider swimming, biking, water aerobics, shadow boxing, rowing, or Burdenko exercises. If you need help coming up with a good program, I definitely recommend hiring a personal trainer to help you design a workout program tailored to your specific limitation and needs.

We all need to acknowledge how important high-intensity exercise is in reducing the risk of death and peaking in physical and mental fitness.

In the end, if you are not breathing hard during your exercise, you need to pick up the pace. 

Just keep in mind that you should discuss your exercise plans with your doctor, particularly if you have any health problems.