High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

This type of work out has become increasingly popular because of its benefits and ability to be modified for all fitness levels. HIIT workouts typically burn more calories due to the high intensity and can even be completed without equipment. They can provide the same benefits as a long cardiovascular endurance workout, but in a much shorter period of time.

HIIT has been shown to improve:

  • Cholesterol levels
  • Blood pressure and Cardiovascular health
  • Body’s ability to use glucose for fuel to convert to energy while exercising
  • Abdominal fat and body weight

Developing a HIIT workout:

When choosing to develop a HIIT program it is important to always be aware of safety and the individual’s current fitness level. The foundation for developing a dynamic HIIT program will be determining your high intensity and recovery intervals. Referring to your estimated target heart zones is the best method for choosing these work loads.

Moderate to high intensity interval – this bout of exercise should feel “hard” to “very hard” and should be at 80-95% of an individual’s maximal heart rate

Recovery interval– this bout of exercise should be a very comfortable activity that allows you to “rest” for your next interval of high intensity exercise

Popular HIIT interval ratios:

  • 1:1 intervals – high intensity intervals are equal to recovery intervals

For example: 3 min of running followed by 3 minutes of walking with the combo repeated several times depending on desired total workout time

  • Spring training interval method– 30 seconds of near max effort followed by 4-4.5 minutes of recovery interval

For example: 30 seconds of max effort sprint followed by a 4 minute walk with the combo repeated 3-5 times

Examples of aerobic exercises used for a HIIT program could include walking, running, rowing, swimming, and stair climbing


Choosing to start an exercise program is a great way to feel better and gain health benefits.  However, knowing how hard to exercise can be challenging.  How can you tell if you are working too hard or not hard enough? Your target heart rate helps you determine a safe and healthy range for exercise intensity.

Before determining your target heart zone you must first calculate your Maximum Heart Rate (MHR).

  • Estimated using the formula: 220-age = MHR
  • MHR represents the number of beats per minute your heart should not exceed during exercise.

Target Heart Rate zone (THR)

  • Estimated using the following formula:

Moderate intensity (50-69%):  MHR x .50 = _____ to MHR x .69 = ______

High intensity (70-90%):  MHR x .70 = _____ to MHR x .90 = ______

40 90-153 bpm 180 bpm
45 88-149 175
50 85-145 170
55 83-140 165
60 80-136 160
65 78-132 155
70 75-128 150
75 72-123 145
80 70-119 140


The chart above is estimated moderate and high intensity target heart zones for a variety of age ranges.

It’s important to remember that these are estimated values.  Stop exercising immediately if you have chest pain, shortness of breath, or dizziness.

While exercising regularly check to see if you are working with in your recommended target heart zone.

  • Find your pulse on  your wrist by using your first two fingers
  • Count your pulse for 10 seconds and multiply by 6 to find your beats per minute. This number represents your current heart rate in beats per minute.
  • Check to see if you are within your recommended target heart rate zone

If you are taking medication that affects your heart rate or you are new to exercise, always consult your doctor to find out what your target heart rate should be or if you should be using another method for determining the intensity of your workouts. 


Is there any way to slow down the aging process?

Is there any way to slow down the aging process?


The Center for Disease Control cites three main things you can do to live a longer, healthier life. The first is to stop smoking, which is associated with cell aging at three times the normal rate.  The second is to eat healthy foods, and the third is to exercise moderately most days of the week. Can these longevity factors be measured?

In 2009 Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn won a Nobel Prize for her discovery of telomerase, an enzyme that may protect and rebuild our DNA. All of our 46 chromosomes which look similar to a big “X” are sealed at the ends by something called telomeres. As we age, these sealed ends of the chromosomes unravel much like a fraying rope. When the seals completely disappear, we’ve reached our life’s end. If we can keep them from fraying or even lengthen them, we “reverse” the aging process. Science now has the ability to actually measure your chromosomal age. It is also possible to see improvement in the telomere unraveling after lifestyle changes. Many micronutrients support healthy telomeres and these too can be measured at the cellular level. These tests are now available and no longer just in an experimental lab.

Inflammation seems to be the common denominator in all chronic diseases including heart disease, arthritis, Alzheimer’s and autoimmune problems. Risk factors like stress, exposure to environmental toxins, genetic predisposition, lack of exercise and poor diet all contribute to inflammation. Improving your diet with specific foods that decrease inflammation is the single most important step in the anti-aging process. In general, eat a colorful variety of foods, preferably fresh.  Try to eliminate pre-packaged or processed foods that have preservatives or artificial coloring. Sugar and white flour need to be greatly reduced. Make vegetables and fruits your main source of calories. Limit the amount of animal protein you eat except wild-caught fish. Always avoid margarine and shortening, and instead substitute nuts, avocados and olive oil. Don’t forget to drink plenty of filtered water.

Omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) are highly anti-inflammatory. These are found in nuts and seeds as well as in wild, cold water-caught fish, and are key micronutrients which may increase our lifespan.  Studies have reinforced DHA supplementation in pregnant and nursing women to promote fetal brain and nervous system development. Not only are Omega-3s anti-inflammatory, but they improve lipids, decrease blood clots, and inhibit hardening of the arteries. DHA may also have an important role in brain health and guard against disorders like ADHD. Fish oil may help artery elasticity and reduce heart rate and abnormal heart rhythms. Supplementing with a high quality Omega-3 fatty acid may also reduce oxidative stress and prevent telomere shortening.

Take the challenge – have your genetic age measured by an Integrative specialty lab . Then adopt a healthy lifestyle with regular exercise, stress reduction and a non-processed, mainly plant-based diet. According  to Dr. Leonard Hayflick  our lifespan may be extended to 125 years. Recheck your chromosomes in six months and see if you aren’t “aging in reverse.”



Contributed by Dr. Heather Auld, Integrative Medicine







The Effects of Exercise on the Brain and Alzheimer’s Disease


Research has told us for decades that exercise lowers the risk of heart disease, strengthens bones and muscles, reduces stress, and helps manage weight. However, it offers far more benefits that are not quite as obvious.  Studies have shown that exercise can improve cognitive function. This evidence leads researchers to believe that exercise may be beneficial for individuals at risk for developing Alzheimer’s or for those that already have the disease.  Brain functions such as memory loss, reasoning, and judgment all decline as the disease progresses.  For the longest time many would suggest medication was the best treatment for Alzheimer’s, but now research shows behavior intervention can be used in adjunction to medication to slow down brain aging associated with diseases like Alzheimer’s.  Exercise can lead the way in behavior intervention for individuals suffering with Alzheimer’s.

How does exercise benefit the brain?

Research suggests that 30-60 min of daily exercise, several times a week, could delay the start or slow the progress of Alzheimer’s disease. Human studies show that the probability that someone will lose cognitive function in the short term is reduced by exercise. Physical activity seems to help the brain not only by keeping your blood flowing, but also by increasing chemicals that protect the brain.  Physical activity also tends to counter some of the natural reduction in brain connections that occurs with aging (Mayo Clinic).

Neuroscientists have known for many years that a normal protein, brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), is released during aerobic exercise and stimulates the growth of new neurons. Recently, Dr. Carl W. Cotman of the University of California performed a study using animal subjects.  His findings suggest that exercise may be the most ideal and beneficial behavior change to preserve the brain.

Dr. Cotman’s study consisted of two groups. One group had access to a running wheel at night and the other group that was forced to be sedentary with no access to a wheel.  Animal subjects that exercised in the running wheel at night had better problem solving and reasoning skills when put in a Morris Water Maze. Subjects that had been exercising were consistently able to locate the platform, just underneath the surface of the water, significantly faster than sedentary subjects.   The studies showed that exercised subjects were able to learn faster and better than sedentary subjects. Cotman stated, “BDNF was increased in the part of the brain that controls thinking and learning.  The same part of the brain that is vulnerable to Alzheimer’s disease. The brain showed a self preservation mechanism that also made it smarter” (Alzheimer’s Project).

Based on these animal model studies, Cotman stated in his conclusion, “Exercise increases the BDNF and acts as a nutrient or “fertilizer” for neurons.  Exercise can induce growth factors, help build neurons, synapses, and improve learning” (Alzheimer’s Project). These findings show that a simple behavior change such as exercise can help delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease and improve cognitive function.


Mayo Clinic

“The Alzheimer’s Project”, a presentation of HBO Documentary Films & the National Institute on Aging at the National Institute of Health in association with Alzheimer’s Association

To learn more about Alzheimer’s Disease, Join Mental Health Therapist, Angel Duncan from the Neuropsychiatric Research Center of Southwest Florida for “Understanding Alzheimer’s:  Facts, Figures, and Future Outlook” on Monday, February 6th at 11:15am.  This is a complimentary lecture, but we ask that you call the Fitness Center at 495-1937 or stop by the Fitness Center to register as space is limited.