How Do HIIT Workouts Impact Your Physical Health As You Age?
Apr 30, 2018
This content is brought to you in partnership with OrthoCarolina, one of the nation's leading orthopedic practices with offices across the Southeast.
It seems like half the people on our Instagram feeds regularly do HIIT (or "high-intensity interval training") workouts as part of living a healthy, balanced lifestyle. And we know of a few HIIT workouts at breweries here in Charlotte, like Team Bootcamp Tuesdays at Blue Blaze Brewing Co. and Bootcamp & A Beer at Hyde Brewing/The Suffolk Punch.
Obviously, these classes increase stamina, burn calories, and build strength. But we couldn't help wondering: could such high-intensity workouts, repeated so many times, have a negative impact on your physical health as you age?
We asked Andy Hylton, a Physician Assistant at OrthoCarolina, to clue us in on how HIIT workouts can affect your body when you participate in them on an ongoing basis.
How HIIT Workouts Are Similar To Soccer
Outside of being a PA at OrthoCarolina, Andy Hylton is also known for his love of soccer. He has played professional soccer in the U.S. and in England, and even played for Great Britain in the World University Games (basically the Olympics, but for students) in Beijing, China.
So it makes sense that when we started talking about high-intensity interval training workouts, Hylton's mind jumped straight so soccer.
"The game, which has been played for generations, requires high-intensity levels of activity followed by an active rest period," Hylton said of soccer. "There obviously some differences, with some HIIT workouts requiring weights and such — but overall, the principle is very similar."
When evaluating HIIT workouts, Hylton said he generally looks to the health of soccer players for a baseline.
"There are multiple great benefits of these types of workouts (HIIT and soccer), including improved cardiovascular health, metabolic health, and even self-esteem," said Hylton.
As someone who is still in soccer circles himself, Hylton says he has seen very few long-term medical issues from this type of exercise regimen. "Many of my peers and other professionals that I am still acquainted with have maintained a high baseline level of health and activity," he said.
Higher Intensity Workouts Could Translate to Higher Intensity Injuries—But They Could Also Benefit Your Body As You Age
Hylton said his biggest orthopedic concern would be injuries occurring mid-workout, rather than as a result of multiple workouts over time.
"As a generalization, injuries that occur at higher intensity is can be more debilitating, and potentially result in either long-term problems or accelerate the potential for arthritic changes as we age," Hylton said.
But beyond that, a recent scientific study on cell metabolism actually found that HIIT workouts reverse signs of aging at the cellular level.
In fact, the Mayo Clinic recently wrote that interval training actually has even bigger benefits for older adults, helping to counteract the muscle loss that can come with aging.
So, just because you're over 40 doesn't mean you should discount HIIT workouts altogether! But you should certainly be careful to avoid injury during these high-intensity training sessions (and know when to see a PT, if you do end up hurting yourself).
Learn More About Building Strength & Protecting Your Body From the Experts at OrthoCarolina
Whether you've recently experienced an injury, need help with recovery after tough workouts, or are simply experiencing chronic pain and need help managing it, OrthoCarolina can help. Make an appointment at a location near you to start getting the treatment you need.