Is High Intensity Exercise the Fountain of Youth?

In a study presented today at European Society of Cardiology Congress, researchers have made a bold claim.

If you want to live a nice long healthy life, the intensity of your workout is more important than the duration.

During their research, they found that men who cycled with fast intensity survived 5.3 years longer than slow cyclists. Average intensity male cyclists survived 2.9 years longer than the slow cyclists.

For women, the averages dropped to 3.9 years for fast cyclists and 2.2 for average speed cyclists.

For both sexes, these numbers were even more pronounced for coronary heart disease mortality.

According to Dr. Peter Schnor, “this study suggests that a greater part of the daily physical activity in leisure time should be vigorous, based on the individuals own perception of intensity”. And it’s not just cycling. Dr. Schnor has published similar results for all-cause mortality in relation to walking.

So there you go….another great reason to cut back on mindless treadmill workouts and embrace my  HIIT and HIRT workouts.


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  1. Hi Doug

    I’ve read many of your articles now, you really do have a great resource here.

    My question is about high intensity interval running. My local gym treadmill has an interval programme which runs for 60 seconds low speed and 60 seconds high speed for 12 minutes. Do you think this is adequate for a HIIT workout, or should the work and rest periods be shorter, with more sets, such as the 20:10×8 in the Tabata protocol?



  2. Hi Joe

    IMHO, the sprint interval is too long. The success of HIIT is in the intensity, and you just can’t go full out for 60 seconds.

    When I say full-out intensity, I want you to run like you’re being chased by a Sabre-Toothed Tiger. That level of intensity is hard to maintain. Anywhere from 10-20 seconds max.

    Take a look at these articles:

    4 Steps to a Great HIIT Workout
    The Best HIIT Workout Of ALL Time

  3. Hi Doug

    I agree with you. Thanks for the links. I had read both of those articles before, but a recap doesn’t hurt 🙂

    It’s a shame the treadmill is not programmable, but then again, I’m not sure I would want to run at “sabre-tooth tiger” speeds on a treadmill anyway, even for 10 seconds. I have fallen off the back of a treadmill before, when I wasn’t paying attention, ha ha, that wasn’t fun 🙂 I would like to avoid that if possible.

    I will continue that treadmill programme every now and again as a “mid-intensity” interval workout and use tabata burpees for HIIT. Sound reasonable?

  4. I never do my sprints on a treadmill – too dangerous.

    Hill sprints, flat sprints, exercise bike, spin bike, rowing machine, versa climber, skipping rope, BW squats, Jump Squats, or even an elliptical if I run out of options

  5. […] High Intensity Exercise the Fountain of Youth? Posted on August 26, 2011 by Paulyb Is High Intensity Exercise the Fountain of Youth? is a post from: Health and Fitness […]

  6. Started doing HIIT about 8 months ago and am blown away by the results! It’s unfortunate how hard it is to convince people about the “quality not quantity” mindset when it comes to lifting and cardio, though. Only about 2% of people will give it a chance.

  7. Hi There,

    Just wondering what the science is behind this like is it to do with how high your heart rate gets when exercising? Really good article i plan to start using the spin bike at high intensity to see if i notice results!

  8. The research looks at heart rate, VO2 Max, etc to judge the intensity level.

    However, if you’re thinking about using that as a measurement for your own workouts, I wouldn’t advise it. There is a delay in heart rate elevation. For example – if you do a 10 sec sprint, your heart rate will be climbing for seconds after you have completed the sprint.

    What I use to measure intensity is speed of movement. For example, I had a client do a series of 10 sec work : 20 sec rest bike sprints this morning. Through trial and error, we have established a range of 26-28 revolutions per 10 sec as being FAST for her. If she goes over 28, we increase the resistance – if she goes below, we stop the sprints or lengthen the rest periods.

    It’s not as technical as tracking heart rate or some other scientific method, but it’s easy to monitor and has produced consistent results for me and my clients

    Hope this helps

  9. I started HIIT last year and love the efficiency of it. It keeps me fit in a minimal amount of time, but I have hard time convincing some people at my gym, that this works better than a conventional workout. They still reason working out for more than an hour is better than a quality workout in 30 minutes, but still complain they can’t shift the weight.

  10. Totally agree. I try to convince others but it does seem to fall on deaf ears.

    Thanks Doug for all you do!

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