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Does Increasing Heart Rates Lead to Longer Life?

July 30, 2021

Does Increasing Heart Rates Lead to Longer Life?

It's no secret that active people tend to live longer. And, while we also look at diets and lifestyle, it seems putting a little more oomph into your workout can be an additional longevity factor.

According to a 2020 study from the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), a higher proportion of vigorous physical activity as compared to total moderate to vigorous physical activity was associated with statistically significantly lower all-cause mortality. That means, people who did more intense workouts most likely would live longer.

HIITs Training

“Vigorous”, however, is loosely defined. In the study, is was categorized as “at least 10 minutes that cause heavy sweating or large increases in breathing or heart rate.”  This type of exercise is best achieved through HIITs. HIITs training stands for High Intensity Interval Training - a form of cardiovascular exercise. HIIT can be further broken down into two main categories SIT (sprint interval training) and HIIT (high intensity interval training). 

HIIT involves exercising from 30 seconds to three minutes, working between 80-100 percent of your maximum heart rate, with shorter recovery periods than SIT.

In general, vigorous activity simply yields larger improvement than moderate activity in areas like cardiorespiratory fitness and functional capacity.  It helps improve oxygen consumption, blood pressure, and body composition. In short, the stress – good stress – helps activate the longevity genes. Our longevity genes are like first-response emergency teams that activate and respond to stress by repairing DNA.

Does this mean you have to always go all out in your workouts and forget about the steady cardio workouts we typically do?

Nope. But, if all you do is moderate-level exercise, adding some vigorous activity in the mix could be a welcomed health benefit.

Vigorous activity challenges the cardiovascular and musculoskeletal systems of the body to a greater extent than moderate activity. Adding a couple HIIT sessions per week could be enough to stimulate those extra benefits and can help strengthen muscles.

The study’s message can be broadly applicable to almost all of us. High intensity intervals should be included in our workouts. Intervals are safe and feasible for most people. Many exercise equipment programs have HIIT features included. 

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