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Interval Training Boosts Women’s Health

Posted Sep 17 2013 10:07pm

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is an enhanced form of interval training, an exercise strategy alternating periods of short intense anaerobic exercise with less-intense recovery periods.  Whereas numerous interval training studies have focused primarily on men, C. Matthew Laurent, of Bowling Green University (Ohio, USA), and colleagues compared the exercise modality to ascertain differences in benefits between men and women.  The researchers put eight men and eight women, ages 19 to 30 years, through self-paced, high intensity interval training using different recovery periods. All of them reported at least a moderate fitness level and participation in at least one session of interval training a week.  Participants hit the treadmill for six, four-minute intervals performed at the highest intensity they felt they could maintain. Recovery between intervals consisted of one minute, two minutes or four minutes.  Throughout the intervals, their maximum oxygen consumption and heart rates were measured. Results revealed a significant effect of gender on both percentages. Across the trials, men self-selected a faster relative pace, but the women worked at a higher percentage of their maximum heart rate than the men and a higher percentage of their maximum oxygen consumption.  The study authors observe that: “women may demonstrate improved recovery during high-intensity exercise, as they will self-select intensities resulting in greater cardiovascular strain.”

Laurent, C. Matthew; Vervaecke, Lauren S.; Kutz, Matthew R.; et al.  “Sex specific responses to self-paced, high-intensity interval training with variable recovery periods.”   Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research., 8 July 2013.

  
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Tip #192 - Stay Connected
Researchers from the University of Chicago (Illinois, USA) report that social isolation may be detrimental to both mental and physical health. The team analyzed data from the National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project, a nationwide US study involving 3,000 men and women, ages 57 to 85 years. They arrived at three key findings regarding the relationships between health and different types of isolation:

• The researchers found that the most socially connected older adults are three times as likely to report very good or excellent health compared to those who are least connected, regardless of whether they feel isolated.

• The team found that older adults who feel least isolated are five times as likely to report very good or excellent health as those who feel most isolated, regardless of their actual level of social connectedness.

• They determined that social disconnectedness is not related to mental health unless it brings feelings of loneliness and isolation.

Separately, Rush University Medical Center (Illinois, USA) researchers studied 906 older men and women, testing their motor functions (including grip, pinch strength, balance, and walking) and surveying their social activity, for a period of 5 years. Those study participants with less social activity were found to have a more rapid rate of motor function decline. Specifically, the team found that every one-point decrease in social activity corresponded to an increase in functional aging of 5 years, translating to a 40% higher risk of death and 65% higher risk of disability.

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