UB Research shows interval training could help reverse aging in older adults


BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Two University at Buffalo Researchers may have found the key to reversing frailty as you get older.  The secret to staying physically young?  It’s all about the way you work out.

Growing older may not necessarily mean having to also grow more frail.

That’s the word from Dr. Bruce Troen, senior author on the study with Kenneth L. Seldeen, PhD, who is first author.

Troen is professor and chief of the Division of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine in the Department of Medicine, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at UB, a geriatrician with UBMD Internal Medicine, and a physician-investigator with the Veterans Affairs Western New York Health Care System. Seldeen is research assistant professor of medicine at UB.

Dr. Troen said, “How the frailty component can be reversed, can be delayed, so that people can become more resilient.”

He said with a certain type of exercise, it’s possible to enhance quality of life in older adults. “Getting the most years out of their life, to have health span where they are as fully functional as possible, where they have a great quality of life, because that’s what will allow us to enjoy the years that we have,” said Dr. Troen.

Dr. Seldeen said, “It’s about what can I do in my life to live my years in a healthy functional manner?”

It’s no secret exercise does only good things for your aging process, but Dr. Troen says “high intensity interval training” is the way to go.

“We’re trying to devise alternate approaches to using our time most efficiently, and that’s why we’re looking at high intensity interval training because we can get more bang for our buck,” he said.

HIIT training, is when you perform  repeated, brief bursts of very intense exercise with longer recovery. It normally last less than 15 minutes, including warm up and cool down.

To get quantitative results on frailty, these researchers tested on mice. “These are old mice comparable to 65 to 70 year old humans,” said Dr. Troen.

The mice started a traning program of hiit training on a mice-sized treadmill for four months. The mice showed dramatic improvement in strength and physical performance. Dr Troen said, “As the training period goes on, we can increase their intensity based upon their performance or decrease it if it’s necessary.”

Dr. Seldeen said, “You may not have to do too much exercise, but you have to maintain some level of activity, if you can push yourself a little bit that helps.”

And Dr. Troen and Dr. Seldeen believe the same results will prove true in humans. “Mice while not exactly like men, have many characteristics relevant to us as we age and in disease settings,” said Dr. Troen.

The 10-minute exercise program involved a three-minute warm-up, three intervals of one minute of high intensity and one minute at lower intensity, and a final minute of higher intensity on an inclined treadmill. The exercises were done three times a week over 16 weeks. All exercises were well-tolerated by the mice.

Troen and Seldeen cautioned that anyone considering HIIT should check with their physician first.

The research was funded by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and by the Indian Trail Charitable Foundation, a private foundation that has funded several of Troen’s projects on aging.

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