Interval Training: What’s Best For Seniors?

To answer this question, let’s learn about what Interval Training is and why it has become a significant part of many fitness routines.

How your body responds

Exercise creates immediate responses in your body. You start to run and your heart quickly begins to pump faster and you start to breathe forcefully. Amazing and drastic changes occur immediately throughout your entire body. The quantity of air forced in and out of your lungs skyrockets. More blood gets redirected to the muscles. Increased oxygen is extracted from the blood to keep you going.

And that is just part of the story!

The reason for this background is to help you understand the power and purpose of exercise. Your body systems respond to these positive stressors of exercise by getting more efficient.

Knowing this, let’s connect it to the importance of interval training because using this fundamental principle of exercise is not just for elite athletes.. it’s for Seniors, as well!

Reaching new levels gradually

“So, if I push myself to my limits (always unique to each individual), for even a short period of time, and I do this consistently, you mean I am going to be stronger, faster, and fitter?”


Welcome to interval training!

Extremely important numbers

Before discussing specific interval times and techniques, we need to talk about your heartbeat. Your heart rate is the central measure of interval (and other) training design. Those of you who are on heart medication or any other medication that alters heart rate response to exercise should have a specific discussion with your doctor before engaging in intense activities. For you folks, a good indicator of exercise stress is breathing intensity and your your own perception of the intensity of your exertion. Always, in every exercise situation, every senior needs to be mindful of these cues! No matter how fast the person next to you is moving in aerobics class, your personal pace in your correct training zone is the only one that matters! For every exercise, correct form done slowly is superior to sloppy form done quickly.

The intensity level of exercise is generally specified by your heart rate as a percentage of its maximum rate. You’ve probably seen the formula 220 – (your age) = maximum heart rate. It’s approximate, at best, because the range is about a ten point swing lower or higher. But for you to run your fastest and try to calculate your maximum rate could get you hurt.

If you are new to exercise (and have been cleared to do so), it is recommended that you train within 60 – 80 percent of your maximum heart rate on a regular basis for 6 months before progressing higher.

If your favorite activity is walking, an interval workout would consist of alternating normal effort with increased effort. The exact intervals would be important to elite athletes competing in running or cycling, but such precision is not necessary here. The point is that even small intervals of time–say 20 seconds–at your upper limit, done consistently over time, will work for you!

So mix it up and have fun by doing two minutes normal speed, one minute faster speed. Remember, the important part is getting into a higher training zone as measured by your heart rate response. This concept can be applied to any activity!

Thank you for sharing this with someone!

So keep it safe, fun and simple!


Simply Senior Fitness by Steven Siemons is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Categories: Fitness


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