A little exercise can do wonders for the body and the mind. As Jim Oliver neared retirement, the United States Navy veteran decided to take that seriously.

Oliver joined a study at the Buffalo VA Medical Center examining how high intensity interval training could be beneficial for older adults. He saw the results right away.

“After 12 weeks, I lost six pounds,” Oliver said. “Definitely after about five or six weeks felt much greater strength in my physical well-being. I had some bounce to my step.”

That’s exactly what researchers with the University at Buffalo were looking to find out.

“We’re trying to figure out a way to help veterans and the population at large get benefits from exercise, but do it in less time,” Dr. Bruce Troen, University at Buffalo Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, said.

The workout involves riding a recumbent bike with interval bursts of high exertion over just 10 minutes, three times a week.

“It’s not just about the years in our life, but it’s also about the life in our years. And what we’re finding is that quality of life with a high intensity interval training program can be significantly enhanced,” Dr. Troen said.

The investigators at UB have found that this type of exercise regimen can help not only physical strength and endurance, but has cognitive benefits for the brain as well, critical to keeping people active and engaged as they get older.

“Both of these are fantastic indicators that exercise just goes beyond the body. It does a lot of for the mind as well,” Kenneth Seldeen, University at Buffalo Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, said.

Richard Minor, a Marine veteran, was also part of the trial. He has diabetes, so he realizes the importance of keeping fit.

“You’ve got to move around and you’ve got to do things, you’ve got to exercise, eat right, or else your body will just give out on you,” Minor said.

Researchers are now looking at what happens when the participants finish the program. Do they continue exercising at home? Oliver does brisk walking and tracks his results with a FitBit watch.

“Doing that is just an offshoot of what I did here knowing that ‘Hey, you can walk 2-3 each day and maintain,” Oliver said.

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, key to living long and living well.