How Interval Training Can Lower Your RealAge

How Interval Training Can Lower Your RealAge

Want to improve your RealAge? Add interval training to your workouts.

In his memoir Dream Weaver, musician Gary Wright describes how as a youth in New Jersey, he was taught to swim by Olympic gold medal swimmer and Tarzan actor Buster Crabbe, who was giving swimming lessons at Palisades Amusement Park. “I was about seven years old…[and] he looked at me and said, ‘Can you swim?’ ‘No,’ I answered, ‘I came here hoping you’d teach me.’” Buster then held the young Gary out flat in the water and told him to kick like the devil and paddle. Then he dropped his arms, “and there I was—swimming for the first time! I started yelling, “I can swim, I can swim!” A great moment for the rock n’ roller—and for interval training.

A study from Leipzig University in Germany says four-bouts of high-intensity interval training (“kick like the devil”) during an exercise session can increase telomere activity and length. Telomeres are the safety caps that protect the genes in your cells. They’re like the plastic caps on shoelaces that protect your laces from fraying. When they go, so do your laces. And as your telomeres go, so goes your cellular health—and your RealAge.

So, if you want to increase your telomere length, work interval training into your daily walk, bike ride or swim. When walking, walk a normal pace for four minutes and then speed up for two; repeat four times. For variety, Dr. Mike likes to walk, then jump rope for two minutes, then walk again. Find comparable adventurous rhythms for other aerobic activities.

Medically reviewed in November 2019.

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