High-Intensity Interval Walking Training Benefits Middle-Aged and Older People

In this recent study, walking with high intensity bursts of speed improved health benefits compared to moderate walking (and no walking). Here are the definitions of moderate and high intensity walking:

  • The moderate-intensity group received instruction to walk more than 8000 steps daily at 50% of peak oxygen capacity for a minimum of 4 days per week, and they used a pedometer to monitor steps.
  • The high-intensity group received instruction to do 5 or more daily sets of 2- to 3-minute low-intensity walking intervals (at 40% of maximal oxygen capacity) followed by a 3-minute interval of high-intensity walking (between 70% and 85% of peak oxygen capacity) for at least 4 days per week.

The high intensity group had somewhat better outcomes on these health measurements:

  • At the end of the program, muscle strength for knee extension and flexion increased significantly in the high-intensity group (by 13% for extension and 17% for flexion) vs both the nonwalking and the moderate-intensity groups.
  • There was significant increase in peak oxygen capacity for walking (increased by 9%) and cycling (increased by 8%) in the high-intensity group vs the nonwalking and the moderate-intensity groups.
  • SBP [systolic blood pressure] and DBP [diastolic blood pressure] decreased significantly (by 9 mm Hg and 5 mm Hg, respectively) in the high-intensity group, and the decrease was significantly greater vs the nonwalking and moderate-intensity groups.
  • SBP decreased in 25 of 33 participants with increased peak oxygen capacity for walking in the high-intensity group, which suggests a correlation between the blood pressure and peak oxygen capacity.

While neither conclusive nor dramatic, these results do suggest that increasing walking intensity (for at least 15 minutes, in 3 minute intervals, at least 4 days per week) during regular moderate walking may be helpful for some relatively fit people.

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One Response to “High-Intensity Interval Walking Training Benefits Middle-Aged and Older People”

  1. Melissa Says:

    Thank you for posting this. Although these particular results aren’t dramatic, I think it adds to the body of knowledge about how beneficial walking is and how important it is to walk regularly to maintain good health throughout your entire life time.

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