By Steve Moran

I know I am obsessed right now with brain and exercise health for senior living residents. But I find myself believing it may be the lowest hanging fruit for improving the quality of life for residents during and after the pandemic. It actually has some serious implications for those of us who work in senior living.


I first came across the concept of high impact interval training (HIIT) a few months ago when I started training for my big sabbatical hike on the John Muir Trail this summer (though the pandemic may make this impossible). But it was one of those things that just kept popping up over and over again . . . or more likely, I started paying more attention to it.  

Then I came across this article:

The 4-Second Workout

The Big Idea

We know that being sedentary is bad for human health and bad for human brains. It seems apparent that sheltering in place is compounding bad habits. I am worried about what it will mean for the physical and mental health of residents who are confined to a few hundred square feet 24/7.

A group of researchers found that a series of micro-high-intensity workouts had more health benefits than a single hour-long brisk walk. You ask what is micro? Yep, it is just 4 seconds at peak intensity.

They had volunteers get on a stationary bike and sprint as hard as possible for 4 seconds, rest for 45 seconds and then do it over again a total of 5 times each hour for 8 hours.

The next day the subjects returned to the lab with lower blood levels of triglycerides and burned more fat during the next six hours while their triglycerides remained about 30 percent lower throughout the six hours of monitoring.

Don’t Do This Yourself

This study was done with young people and It would obviously need to be very different and programmed for residents. But I think there is a real opportunity to work with your therapy team to create something that would provide similar benefits to residents. Maybe even something that could be done in a resident room or in the hallway.

You Too

As a leader, even if you are on your feet all day, this might be something for you to explore for your own health.