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Should the intensity of exercise decrease as we age? A recent study has challenged the notion that high-intensity training should be reserved for the young. In the past, experts believed that older individuals might not benefit from high-intensity training, and that it could increase the chance of

Training Intensity for Older Males

Should the intensity of exercise decrease as we age? A recent study has challenged the notion that high-intensity training should be reserved for the young. In the past, experts believed that older individuals might not benefit from high-intensity training, and that it could increase the chance of injury. The 16-week study divided 18 men between the ages of 50 and 75 into two groups: a control group and a high-intensity resistance-training group. The high-intensity training consisted of a number of exercises performed twice a week. The results were promising. While no changes were found in the control group, the high-intensity training group was able to tolerate the challenging workouts while remaining injury free. The older men also reported cardiovascular and muscular improvements similar to those seen in young men.

Maximizing Growth Hormone Release

A recent study published in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness (2003) found that growth-hormone levels can be enhanced by high-intensity exercise. By activating growth hormone, we can promote fat loss and stimulate lean muscle development. Researchers found that growth-hormone release can be triggered by adding a lighter set, with more repetitions, to the end of a workout. For example, if a 50-year-old man can lift 45 kg for one repetition on a leg-extension exercise, he would perform the following protocol:

  1. Five sets (2 to 4 repetitions) of 40 kg
  2. One more set (15 to 25 repetitions) of 22 kg

A high-intensity strength-training program can help elevate circulating growth-hormone levels, which naturally decline as we age.

Active Living

People often underestimate the cardiovascular and psychological benefits of active living. Unless they've blocked off a specific workout session, many don't regard activity throughout the day as exercise.

A recent study published in Medicine Science Sports and Exercise (2002) compared fitness, cardiovascular risk factors, and psychological well-being between two groups of previously sedentary individuals. One group took brisk 30-minute walks, five days a week, while the other group took three 10-minute walks per day, for five days a week. Over a six-week period, the three 10-minute bouts of walking proved to be as effective in improving cardiovascular risk and mood as the continuous 30-minute walks. So the next time you briskly walk to the corner health food store, or pick up your heels for a 10-minute walk to the bus stop, think about the benefits you are accumulating. Exercise was never so easy.

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