If you have a bit of a love-hate relationship with the treadmill, you might be tempted to ditch your bi-weekly cardio session. However, new science is here, and it’s telling you not to do that.
As well as lowering blood pressure, protecting bone strength and improving lung capacity, research published in the European Heart Journal has revealed that pavement-pounding in all its forms can help to slow the signs of ageing.
(Related: How to build muscle with running)
Scientists from Leipzig University in Germany decided to compare the effects of endurance, HIIT and resistance training on the human body.
The team monitored the white blood cells of 266 healthy volunteers who had otherwise been “previously inactive”. Participants were randomly assigned a workout, which they had to complete three times per week, or put in a control group.
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Endurance training involved long runs, HIIT training consisted of a warm up and running intervals, and resistance training involved chest presses, leg curls and the like.
(Related: Why cardio might be harder in the winter)
Six months later, researchers saw an increase in both telomere activity and length – the DNA responsible for healthy ageing – in the white blood cells of endurance and HIIT training participants, compared to those who completed resistance training alone, or no exercise at all.
The takeaway? Regular cardio sessions will help you live longer. Experts say we can blame cavemen for that.
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“From an evolutionary perspective, endurance and high intensity training may mimic the advantageous travelling and fight or flight behaviour of our ancestors better than strength training,” Dr Christian Werner, one of the authors of the study, told The Independent.
Evolution has spoken. Cardio is going nowhere.