Linda Melone
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Best exercise routine for ageless muscles

I am writing this Thursday post on a Tuesday, 48 hours before it’s actually due to appear on my website. That’s 47 hours and 30 minutes earlier than my usual starting time. Best exercise routine for ageless muscles

Why the rush? Because in two days I’ll be under an avalanche of packing material and unhappy cats, trying to locate a coffeepot in a heap of boxes marked “kitchen.”

So it’s now or never.

Truth is, I work best under the gun, so writing a post at a leisurely pace feels like cheating. In fact, there’s a good chance this won’t get done until the movers pull up to the front door simply because I don’t know how this proactive routine works.

Okay, but my real inspiration for today comes from a subscriber, Johanne (thank you!), who sent me a link to an article that appeared in the New York Times’ WELL section that talks about the best exercise for aging.

Let’s start by taking a look at the opening quote:

“The toll that aging takes on a body extends all the way down to the cellular level. But the damage accrued by cells in older muscles is especially severe, because they do not regenerate easily and they become weaker as their mitochondria, which produce energy, diminish in vigor and number.”

Now for the English translation.

First, so much for making people feel better about aging. 

Excuse me while I down a bottle of Geritol. Okay, I’m back. We only had Pepto Bismol, so that didn’t work.

Loosely translated, the article begins by saying aging is a slow, horrible process that affects us at the smallest, cellular level and attacks muscles with particular vengeance. These poor muscle cells are unable to fight back because aging weakens the powerhouse portion of the cells.

Basically, our muscle cells find their way to a rocking chair on the front porch and sit there with blankets on their laps, chasing kids off the lawn, waiting for the grim reaper to put an end to their misery.

Best exercise routine for ageless muscles

Sadly, this will not reverse aging

In reality, it’s not as bad as it looks. So put down the spoon and slowly step away from the Chunky Monkey.  

It will all be fine. There’s a light on the horizon.

And – surprise! – it’s exercise! Wooo hooo!

Finally, a study that shows exercise is actually good for us. So all of us who work out in secret, afraid of being ostracized for such an enjoyable indulgence, can now come out of hiding without shame!

Oh, wait, I got that wrong. Nearly all studies show the benefits of exercise.

Best exercise routine for ageless musclesThis new study, however, talks about a specific exercise approach that reversed age-related changes older subjects. Can you guess the type of exercise?

  1. Swimming with sharks
  2. Kickboxing with kangaroos
  3. Running with the bulls
  4. None of the above

Trick question! The answer is both 4 and all of the above.

The real answer: Interval workouts.

Defined by routines that require alternating bouts of increasing intensity followed by “rest” or lower intensity segments, interval routines were shown to increase the ability of mitochondria to produce energy for muscle cells by increasing the number and health of these beasties.

In simple terms, think of mitochondria as the elves in the Toll House cookie tree, except instead of producing chocolate chip cookies they’re pumping out energy.

The aging process acts like a Mafia hitman, knocking off the elves execution style. No one does anything about it because they’re afraid of ending up with a horse head in their bed.

Then along comes Mr. Intervals, a superhero who’s not afraid of anything, let alone some wimpy elf-kicking, greasy-haired gangster.

Okay, I may be getting a little carried away with my analogy, but you get the idea.

Bottom line: Interval training keeps you younger.

That’s all you need to know.  Best exercise routine for ageless muscles

Well, except for how to do it.

Here’s the scoop…

You can approach cardiovascular exercise in a couple different ways: long, steady-state endurance workouts, where you maintain a moderate pace for hundreds of years.

Or maybe it just feels that way.

By adding a day or two of interval training each week you not only increase fat burning but, according to this research, can reverse the damaging effects of aging. And it’s a more interesting and challenging way to sweat off the pounds.


So intervals. Here’s a super simple pattern you can use with any type of cardio:

Warm-up: 5 minutes easy pace, cardio of your choice, then:

  1. 30 seconds easy pace
  2. 20 seconds moderately hard pace
  3. 10 seconds as fast as you can go (adjust according to your fitness level)
  4. Repeat FIVE or more times without stopping (fewer if you’re a newbie)
  5. Cool down by walking around for two minutes and stretch

For more interval programs, check out these earlier posts:

7 Fat-Burning Walking Workouts

Fat burning intervals anyone can do (including beginners)

Best of the best exercises for abs, arms and legs for women over 50

YOUR TURN: DO YOU USE INTERVALS in your cardio regimen? If so, let me know in the comments section below and how you do them! I’d love to hear.
And if you like this post, please forward it and share with your ageless friends. I will be most grateful! xo

Your Ageless Body Coach,


About the Author Linda Melone

Linda Melone is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, certified trainer and award-winning health and fitness writer. She specializes in helping women over 50 get in shape and lose weight.

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Leave a Comment:

Tammy Gill says

I have begun doing intervals on my cardio only days. 3 sets using the above 30/20/10 for 1 mile with a mile of easy run in between each set. It really makes the time go by.

    Linda Melone says

    It does make time go by! Good plan :).

Allie says

Hi Linda! Awesome post. Do you have an intervals app that you like to use? The ones I’ve found only allow you to switch between high and low intensity, so I cant find a way to get a time that does what you suggest with the 30, 20, 10, which sounds really good. Thoughts? Thank you!

    Linda Melone says

    Hi Allie, I like an app called The first few workouts are free then it’s a fairly inexpensive (I don’t recall the exact amount, but around $50) for the whole year. It includes nearly every type of cardio workout and tons of options within each with varying times. Otherwise, I’m sure others exist but that’s the only one I’ve tried :).

Tess Narvon says

Thanks – I will try it. Good luck with your move!

    Linda Melone says

    Thanks, Tess!

Ann says

I’ve been doing the Couch to 5K app on my phone. It does a 5 minute warm up and then followed by intervals of brisk walking and running. Great workout!

    Linda Melone says

    I think I’ve heard of that app. Sounds like a good one, Ann!

Heather Evans says

Very informative post!! I’m definitely going to try this on my next run! Thanks!!

    Linda Melone says

    Glad you found it helpful, Heather! 🙂

Kary says

For non- runners… can this principle be applied to walking or biking?

    Linda Melone says

    Hi Kary, Absolutely! The same principles apply.

Allie says

Thanks for the recommendation, Linda!

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