Over 60? Fight aging by switching weights for cardio workouts, says study

Resistance training has its place, but intense workouts are the key to staying healthy as you age

Woman doing a high-intensity workout at home
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Our bodies change as we get older, but exercise can be an effective way to stay fit, healthy, and mobile into our later years. But thanks to a new study, we now know that intense cardio exercise is the best way to battle the effects of aging.

While it's important to maintain muscle mass as you age, you don't have to lift weights to stay stronger; working out with a set of the best resistance bands can work your muscles, too, helping you to remain mobile for longer.

Muscular strength plays a crucial role, but it's only part of the picture if you want to stay healthy in your later years. Other changes are happening inside your body that you can influence with certain types of exercise.

Research published in the European Heart Journal found that cardio-focused endurance exercises, like long-distance running, and high-intensity workouts affect cellular aging and are the key to a longer, healthier life.

Over a six-month study, the researchers compared the effects of several exercise styles, including resistance training, on cellular aging. The team found that cardio and high-intensity exercises were the most effective for reversing some measures of aging.

If you're not a fan of running, you can stay fit, build muscle, and reduce the effects of aging using this 25-minute, high-intensity, equipment-free workout from fitness YouTubers Tiff x Dan.

Watch Tiff x Dan's 25-minute cardio HIIT routine

Specifically, the researchers wanted to look at how each type of training affected telomere length, a vital marker of biological age, according to a paper published in Frontiers in Genetics.

Telomeres are small sections of DNA, and they get shorter as the years go by. The European Heart Journal study found that intense and endurance exercise increased telomere activity, but resistance training had little effect.

That's why Tiff x Dan's quick workout is an ideal way to fit some high-intensity cardio exercise into your day. To fit an effective workout into just 25 minutes, they use a style of movement known as high-intensity interval training (HIIT).

The aim is to work as hard as you can for 30 seconds, take a 15-second rest, then tackle the next move. This keeps your heart rate high and helps burn energy throughout the session. But it has other benefits, too.

Increasing your heart rate also improves your metabolism, the rate you burn energy at rest during the day. This is why many people use a HIIT workout for fat loss to achieve their weight loss goals.

While intense training is a great way to stay fit and healthy, walking is a low-impact way to stay active and protect your wellbeing. There are many benefits of walking, and you can take things at your own pace.

James Frew
Fitness Editor

James is a London-based journalist and Fitness Editor at Fit&Well. He has over five years experience in fitness tech, including time spent as the Buyer’s Guide Editor and Staff Writer at technology publication MakeUseOf. In 2014 he was diagnosed with a chronic health condition, which spurred his interest in health, fitness, and lifestyle management.

In the years since, he has become a devoted meditator, experimented with workout styles and exercises, and used various gadgets to monitor his health. In recent times, James has been absorbed by the intersection between mental health, fitness, sustainability, and environmentalism. When not concerning himself with health and technology, James can be found excitedly checking out each week’s New Music Friday releases.