Study: Four Minutes of Super Intense Exercise Could Be the Key to a Longer Life

Yet another group of exercise scientists has endorsed the magical powers of HIIT

four-minute workouts
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According to a study recently published in The BMJ, adding high-intensity interval training to one’s daily routine can have a tangible impact on longevity.

Exercise scientists from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology recruited 1,500 septuagenarians from the city of Trondheim, Norway, to exercise at various clips for five years. The first group (the control) agreed to walk for about a half hour each day. The second group exercised for sessions of 50 minutes each day. The third group started a biweekly HIIT program, which followed a “four, four, four” format: four minutes of strenuous exercise, four minutes of rest, four times through.

The researchers deliberately worked with an older cohort because there was a higher likelihood that some of the subjects would pass away during research. In five years, less than 5% did, which was a lower mortality rate than the average in the area. The results indicated that even in Norway — which regularly ranks among the world’s healthiest countries, and touts a life expectancy of 83 — devoting time to consistent exercise can put years on one’s life.

And the findings were even more specific than that. The men and women in third group were 2-3% less likely to have died than those in the first and second groups. According to Dr. Dorthe Stensvold, this is proof that “We should try to include some exercise with high intensity. Intervals are safe and feasible for most people. And adding life to years, not only years to life, is an important aspect of healthy aging, and the higher fitness and health-related quality of life from H.I.I.T. in this study is an important finding.”

Plus: you don’t have to wait until you turn 70 to start putting years on your life. When we talked to Harvard geneticist Dr. David Sinclair earlier this year on longevity, he echoed the scientific support for HIIT and encouraged young people to start sooner. You don’t need an official HIIT class at a gym, either. Pick up a jump rope; do mountain climbers or jumping jacks, run up and down hills. The key is to increase your heart rate for four minutes at a time and trigger a hypoxic response (re: breathless). Embrace the brevity. It’ll leave you time for everything else you need to do that day, while adding days to your life.

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