I’m a jogger, and I love to run three or four miles at a steady pace. But I recently read an article that has me rethinking my approach.

Researchers at the Mayo Clinic wanted to find out how the effects of exercise at the cellular level might change with age. So, being scientists, they conducted an experiment. They found several interesting results, particularly for anyone who’s got a few miles on the tires.

They divided older and younger test subjects into four groups:

  • Vigorous weight training
  • Interval training
  • Moderate cycling plus light weightlifting
  • Control (no exercise)

After 12 weeks, they biopsied muscle cells. The group that saw the greatest change in activity at the cellular level was the group that did interval training. The interval group rode a stationary bike by pedaling hard for four minutes, then resting for three. They repeated the sequence three times.

For a jogger, interval training might mean running fast for about three minutes, followed by a slow jog (or quick walk) for a few minutes (and repeating the cycle).

Older participants, better benefits

Back to the results. The benefits showed up across age groups—but were more dramatic in the older participants. For example, participants under 30 who did only weight training saw activity level changes in 74 genes. But the interval group saw activity level changes in 274 genes.

But get this: For participants 64 and older who did interval training, nearly 400 genes saw activity level changes, compared to 33 for the weight trainers and 19 for the moderate cycling group.

The story notes that these genes may affect the ability of mitochondria to produce energy for muscle cells. The study also reported an increase in the health and number of mitochondria among the interval trainers.

The science is a bit over my head. However, I’m pretty sure I want more and healthier mitochondria (which is one of the reasons I take Origins).

So, next time I take that jog, I might just change it up a bit and include some interval training. You might consider doing the same in your routine.

You can read the details of the study in the March 2017 issue of the scientific journal Cell Metabolism, which we all subscribe to.