De-Aging with Exercise
© Tina Anderson, http://flirtingwithfitness.com
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Studies show that regular aerobic exercise can decrease your biological age by 10 years or more and interval training and weight training are key factors in getting there. Why? Mitochondria in our cells are responsible for energy. They transform it into a chemical form that our cells can use. Efficient mitochondria produce more energy. Even better, if they’re are enhanced our cells turn over and function at a higher level for a longer period of time, sort of like growing new (young) cells. The harder we exercise or more specifically, the larger demands on oxygen consumption, the more positive effect on these mitochondria, resulting in a larger reduction in biological age. High intensity interval training (HIIT) gives us those huge bursts of output that force our bodies to adapt and in essence, “renew and rebuild,” contributing to this overall de-aging process.
Herein lies a bit of a dilemma because we want high exertion levels but we don’t want injuries (that can result from the increases stress on our muscles and joints). The key is choose exercises that incorporate our large muscle groups and are biomechanically correct, taking into consideration the stress to the body, cross-training, our age and gender and our current exercise program. In doing so, think about these variables. Speed – obviously increasing it, for example, on an elliptical, treadmill, lifecycle, spin class; on your walks, jogs or swim – short bursts of all out effort. Resistance. Obviously, increasing it on cardio machines and adding more weight in strength training. What else? Even range of motion. Jump on a step platform at 6-inches and then 8-inches…take bigger steps, leap further, do “steps” at your local high school. Also, combine movements or body parts such as bicep curls wtih plyometrics (burpees) or combine upper and lower body exercises like a shoulder press with a squat. Not enough? Add high-stepping jogging in pace in the set. Start with the basic exercise and add one element at a time. The results can be dramatic.
I suggest two to three times a week and even once a week to get started for 20 to 40-minutes or five if that’s all you can do. Each interval can be 20-seconds to a minute with double or triple recovery time and at 80-85% max heart or uncomfortably out of breath. (I use perceived exertion as my gauge.) Also, alternate your days or do them first if you are combining other workouts or classes. HIIT uses a tremendous amount of anaerobic energy. You want to tap into it first and do your sustained endurance work afterwards.
Weight training. Test results completed by Dr. Len Kravitz showed that after 26-weeks of weight training with subjects ranging in age from 24 to 68, 179 age and exercise-associated genes (out of 596 total) showed a reversal of their gene expression. In lay terms, the resistance training was not only slowing down their aging process but actually reversing it, too. Wow!
Eye creams and coloring your hair, surgeries and the latest “whatevers” we use to bring back our youthful self are not going to be as effective if your insides are crumbling. If your insides are 10 years younger, you will look it too!