Do antioxidants reduce the benefit of high impact interval training?

High impact interval training (HIIT) has become increasingly popular. Consisting of a short series of high intensity sprints, rather than a longer but lower intensity workout, HIIT supposedly delivers impressive benefits in a conveniently short time.

Several studies indicate that antioxidants could prevent the benefits of HIIT exercise. Intense exercise produces molecules called free-radicals which damage certain ion channels within cells, and trigger the production of more mitochondria — the power factories of the cell. It's been demonstrated that antioxidants prevent these responses from occurring, and may reduce some of the benefits of HIIT.

Free-radicals are typically thought of as the bad guys, since they are implicated in changes that can lead to diseases including cancer. However, no studies have linked HIIT to serious damage from free-radicals. In fact, it's likely that exposing the cells and tissues to free-radicals during HIIT allows them to adapt, and may make you healthier.

If you are considering a new exercise regime then always consult a healthcare professional and exercise expert first. Your osteopath will be happy to assess and advise you.