High Intensity Interval Training – Part II – Joints and Bones

High Intensity Interval Training Has Repeatedly Been Shown to be the Most Effective Way to Raise Heart Health and Overall Fitness. It Also Turns Out To Be The Most Effective Way to Maintain Bone and Joint Health.exercise-for-health-squats

In Part I, here, we discussed why high-intensity Interval Training (HIT) was far better for fitness training and heart health than aerobic exercise, yet took far less time.

However, there are other reasons to exercise. An appropriate exercise regime can greatly improve joint and bone health.

HIT exercise is turning out to be the best for these two areas well. The trick here is to select the right HIT exercises.

HIT and Bones

Let’s start with bones. For almost all people, osteoporosis can be completely avoided by simply stressing the bones themselves. This needs to be done fairly frequently; at least a couple of times a week. No calcium pills or other drugs are needed. In fact, the drugs just barely help when they help at all, and all of them have side effects. Bone builds in response to stress. A bone can be stressed either by heavy lifting—squats or deadlifts with as much weight as you can safely manage,—or by explosive versions of the same exercises. The fast versions are done crisply and rapidly, and with perfect form, but with less weight. The HIT version of squats and deadlifts will take care of osteoporosis in the legs and back.exercise-biopower-deadlifts

It may seem a bit paradoxical that stressing the bones would strengthen them. The reason is quite interesting. Stressed bone generates an electric field, and electric fields attract ions, which are charged atoms. The ion primarily attracted is calcium, just what is needed to build bone. No pill can accomplish this. Pills can increase the available calcium, but that is seldom the problem. The problem is getting the bones to use the calcium that is already available. There is more detail on this in our recent exercise post found here.

HIT and Joints

But what about joints? It seems that, according to recent research, HIT exercise is the best bet here as well.

Exercise is usually recommended for people with osteoarthritis, but typically moderate, low intensity exercise.

Researchers at K. G. Jebsen Centre for Exercise in Medicine– Cardiac Exercise Research Group (CERG) at a Norwegian University had a group of arthritic women doing intervals on stationary bikes. The protocol involved a warm-up, then four repetitions consisting of four minutes of intense pedaling, at 85-95% maximum pulse rate, followed by a three minute rest.

Apparently joint health improved significantly better that the usual moderate exercises.

By examining what needs to happen for joints to repair and rebuild, this comes as no surprise. A joint will become healthy and stay healthy if these two ccriteria are met:

The joint is run through its range of motion. This spreads joint fluid throughout the joint space within its capsule and nourishment for the joint is in the fluid.

The joint is pressed firmly. This forces the nutrients down into the cartilage where the hungry cells that can generate new cartilage are to be found. Doing intervals on a stationary bike would fulfill both of these requirements, and both are necessary for joint health. A lengthy post on joint health can be found here.joint-healthy

It is a good idea to go about your daily business day adding a touch of HIT onto normal movement. Getting out of a chair? Drive up. Going up stairs? Go two steps at a time, and driving heard with each step. (Go down one step at a time.) Need to pick something up. Squat down, and drive back up. Both your joints and bones will appreciate it.

So all-in-all it looks like High Intensity Interval Exercise is a sort of wonder drug, as least as far as exercise goes.

Knowledge of this, fortunately, is becoming increasingly widespread, but visit any gym, and you’ll still see most people engaging in aerobics.

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