Short six-second bursts of vigorous exercise have the potential to transform the health of elderly people, say researchers in Scotland.
A pilot study involving 12 pensioners showed going all-out in very short bursts, reduced blood pressure and improved general fitness over time.
The team at Abertay University believe it could help avert the “astronomical” costs of ill health in elderly people.
Experts said the study emphasised the benefits of exercise at any age.
High Intensity Training (HIT) has attracted a lot of attention for promising some of the same benefits as conventional exercise but in a much shorter time.
Instead of a comfortable half-hour jog or a few miles on the bike, HIT involves pushing yourself to your limits for a short period of time.
The team in Scotland say they were conducting the first trials in older people.
Get a sweat on
A group of pensioners came into the lab twice a week for six weeks and went hell for leather on an exercise bike for six seconds.
They would allow their heart rate to recover and then go for it again, eventually building up to one minute of exercise by the end of the trial.
“They were not exceptionally fast, but for someone of that age they were,” researcher Dr John Babraj said.
The results, published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, showed participants had reduced their blood pressure by 9%, increased their ability to get oxygen to their muscles and found day-to-day activities like getting out of a chair or walking the dog easier.