Exercise is vital for our health, inside and out—but fitness can often be more about outside appearances than inner well-being. Collagen however, has seen the opposite treatment as it’s repeatedly blasted in the beauty industry as the cure to anti-aging, but possesses many more inner-health benefits.
There is no shortage of collagen-boosting promises within the beauty world, and the importance of collagen and its benefits go far beyond the appearance of our skin. Collagen is an important protein that not only strengthens our most visible aesthetic organ, but also those in our body we cannot see: our muscles, tendons, ligaments, bones, and more.
Why is collagen production necessary?
“Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body and is responsible for the strength and stability of body tissues,” says Eva Redpath, a wellness leader and coach. Science shows that collagen production begins to decline in our twenties which coincides with visible evidence as we see fine lines and wrinkles appear in the skin.
High intensity interval training, known colloquially as HIIT, stimulates the production of collagen, making it an important way in which you can boost your collagen levels in the body, says Redpath.
“HIIT workouts consist of alternating between short intense bursts of activity, followed by short and sometimes active recovery periods. HIIT workouts can help improve your power, increase your strength and rev up your metabolism,” says Redpath.
How can HIIT help?
Exercise stimulates the production of collagen. “Studies show that collagen is in a constant cycle of creation and destruction in the body; age and environment play a factor in the breakdown,” Redpath adds. “HIIT training, and resistance workouts are the best forms of exercise to focus on in the gym for collagen production because they stimulate the human growth hormone.”
For those who are intimidated by the acronym, HIIT workouts don’t require a gym membership, fancy classes or a personal trainer. It can be as easy as body-weight exercises including squats, push-ups, lunges, mountain climbers, later bounds, and burpees performed in sequence in the comfort of your own home with the help of the endless resources on smartphone apps or YouTube.
Redpath encourages HIIT workouts because they are challenging and fun, and are great for those who are short on time. “HIIT workouts also help you mix things up, keep your body guessing, and mindset inspired.”
What are other benefits of collagen?
Collagen can also help you recover from injuries more quickly, and it supports cardiovascular health by reducing arterial stiffness, which is a marker of cardiovascular disease in the elderly, as well as providing anti-inflammatory, antioxidant support, improve bone mineral density, and reduce bone degradation.
Beyond HIIT training, a healthy diet and good quality sleep can all help the body’s natural ability to produce collagen. Supplementation can also be an easy way to improve your collagen levels (in addition to a healthy lifestyle). A 2015 study in the British Journal of Nutrition found that a group of men 53 and older who were taking collagen supplements were able to increase muscle mass and reduce fat loss more effectively than the placebo group.