The possibility of being able to reverse aging through exercise is now a studied fact. Just the same as the saying, ‘you are what you eat’. But what we know and what we do are often completely different. At some level, we know we should be doing better than we are. But at the same time, it’s so hard to get going. After all isn’t that what broken New Year’s Resolutions are all about?
A long time ago, I lived down the street from a little mall that was surrounded by apartments. Lot of seniors living in them. Whenever I went to that shopping centre, I was always struck by the number of old people who were forced to make use of some kind of mobility aid. Walkers, canes, electric carts, wheelchairs… Don’t get me wrong, they needed their aids legitimately. That was pretty obvious. But watching them in the years that we lived there, made me determined not to ‘settle back in my rocker on the porch’ when I got older.
Equally, based on my current age and how I feel, I’m likewise determined to encourage anyone who asks, to get moving because their life depends on it! And we’re not just talking how many years a person lives, but how well you live them! The time for you to reverse aging through exercise is right now.
Each one of the many benefits of exercise, by itself is a reason for getting out and going for a walk. But when you put them all together! What do you think their value is then? How about ‘priceless’? You know what they say, “you haven’t got anything if you don’t have your health!’.
10 Wonderful Ways You Reverse Aging Through Exercise
Remember, all of your body systems and functions will slowly wind down and quit working as well as they did when you were a 20-something, unless you get involved! So exercise:
- Will help you lose or maintain your weight.
- Strengthens your immune and digestive system.
- Gives you healthier blood pressure levels.
- Improves your bone density
- Lowers the risk of many of the frightening spectres of old age: Alzheimers, diabetes, obesity, heart disease, osteoporosis and apparently, some kinds of cancers.
- Enhances your flexibility and your balance so there’s less likelihood that you’ll fall and break a hip!
- Reduces the pain of some illnesses like arthritis.
- Helps you sleep better (and you know how good you feed when you sleep like a baby!)
- You feel more optimistic and happier when you feel good physically.
- Helps to slow down not only physical but also cognitive decline.
Exercise Slows Down the Aging Process
There are actually studies that show that any amount of exercise slows the aging process! This supports the idea that you can be chronologically old (according to your calendar) but biologically young. So you feel younger and stronger than you actually are. It means that the breakdown of your cells and DNA has slowed.
One of the reasons that I enjoy writing these posts is that I have to do some research to make sure my ideas have support, so I read lots of interesting things. Well okay, they’re interesting to me and I hope to you! I’d hate to think I was boring your to death…. Anyway, I didn’t know that our DNA actually changes too as we get older. Depending on your lifestyle choices and food choices, and the resulting health implications, that rate of change can be either slowed down or speeded up. For example, athletes have healthier DNA than sedentary people.
What the Researchers Found!
Researchers at the University of Mississippi and the University of California did a study with 6500 volunteers ranging from 20 to 84 years. They broke them down into four groups based on their exercise habits. Each volunteer was asked each which of four types of exercise they’d participated in in the past month. The activities were:
- moderate exercise like walking
- moderate exercise like weight training
- vigorous exercise like running
- vigorous exercise like riding a bike or walking to work or school
- Four categories, various intensities.
Each choice got one point. If they only walked, they got one point. But if they did two types of workout in that week, they got two points. If three…. and so on. The next thing they did was a second blood test and they checked the DNA in each sample. They were looking to see if they could detect signs that it is possible to reverse aging through exercise.
What’s My DNA Got To Do With Exercise?
Now for the sake of clarification about the next bit, you’re probably familiar with what a strand of DNA looks like right? It’s that little bit of a spirally ladder looking thing that is in each cell of our bodies. It’s the instruction code for ‘us’.
Well those little ‘rungs’ on our little spirally DNA ‘ladder’ are called telomeres. And as we age, our telomeres get frayed at the ends. When they’re frayed enough, they crumble and break off. So our DNA ‘spiral’ starts separating. Which I imagine means, we don’t heal as well or as quickly, our immune system starts to get weaker and all sorts of other really neat things to look forward to!
Your Telomeres Tell the Story of You
So a young person has strong, healthy telomeres and ours are fraying and breaking and shorter! But then those researchers did that study mentioned above. And they found that the people who did only one of those exercises had about a 3% less likelihood of having shortened telomeres. But the group that did a second type of exercise, their risk of shortened telomeres was about 24% less likely. The third group was a bit healthier than that with 29% less chance of shortened telomeres. And the volunteers who probably run marathons and train all the time, well their telomeres were 59% less likely to have shortened telomeres. Whether they know it or not, they reverse aging through exercise by being so dedicated.
The study was beautiful in it’s simplicity. It showed that if you exercise and the more time you spend doing it and the more varied your activities, not only are you going to feel better and look better, but even down at the cellular level, you’re able to reverse aging through exercise. In fact, according to one analysis vigorous exercise was equated with seven additional years if you did it for two and a half or three and a half hours in total each week. Well if you are feeling good, why not right!
Bums and Exercise? Makes Perfect Sense!
Another study was done to find out if exercise is good for your skin. It wasn’t a big one, but the findings were still interesting. Again, the 29 male and female volunteers ranged in age from 20 to 84 years. Half of them did at least three hours of moderate or vigorous exercise every week. The other group were mostly sedentary or did less than an hour a week.
Because skin is affected by the sun, researchers decided to take the needed samples from the volunteers bums which stayed covered even when they were out walking in the warm weather. Under a microscope, they compared the pairs of samples. What they found was that the people who exercised vigorously had visibly younger looking skin. More like a 20 or 30 year olds even if they were over 65! Isn’t that the coolest thing? I just wish the words ‘vigorous exercise’ wasn’t attached to the concept.
Reverse Aging Through Exercise and Your Bottom Will Look Great!
They decided to continue the experiment with the sedentary group who happened to mostly be over 65. They started exercising every week for three months and at the end of it, their skin samples were checked. Lo and behold! Their skin actually looked younger too. So there you go, the evidence that at both the cellular level and the surface level, you can reverse aging through exercise.
The one grey cloud in this silver lining, is that unfortunately, exercise won’t reverse the wrinkling that you already have showing on your face and hands. Whatever the years of sun and environmental toxins have done to you, well that’s yours to keep. In this case, all you can do is look to good skin care programs to protect what you have.
Do We Have to ‘Decline’ As We Get Older?
So yes, we’re all going to get old and short of some kind of miracle breakthrough which may or may not be a good thing, it’s going to happen to everyone. But the word ‘decline’ doesn’t have to be the prefix to who we are or how we are. We can reverse aging through exercise. We can feel good and last longer in that good feeling.
It’s hard deciding to get fit! Most of us are adept at thinking up excuses for anything that is outside of our routines. And if part of the routine includes not bothering to exercise, well how much easier is it to find a reason to avoid it?
I’m not even picking on just you here!
I’ve already admitted to not liking exercise for the sake of exercising, so I’m regularly ‘guilting’ myself into making sure I do something. Or maybe it’s my husband nagging at me to get up off the couch, leave Facebook alone and come out for a walk with him. I know he’s right and I know that I’ll feel good about being outside by the time we’ve walked a block. But still, making the decision to do it, can be a struggle sometimes.
You’ve made the decision to reverse aging through exercise! Congratulations! But now you need to also be realistic about your goals, your current condition. This would be the right time for some of you, to talk to your doctor about any health issues and your new intentions about taking control of your health.
Considerations to Keep in Mind
Choose an exercise plan that works for your age and your abilities.
Start with small but frequent efforts. Building on those slowly and gradually.
Allow yourself recovery time if you feel a little sore the next day. It’s just a fact that you’ll recover slower now then you did when you were 23!
Vary your activities. Try one of the following:
go for daily walks
take a class with a friend
take up swimming
go to the gym
New Habits Help Reverse Aging Through Exercise
Develop a new habit in this quest for health! A hint to help you keep going while you’re trying to build up a new habit, just commit to 3 times a week for 20 minutes each time, doing something. Because I find it real easy to put off doing things lately, I’ve also found that if I break a chore down into smaller bits, it becomes easier to get started in the first place. So 20 minutes sounds and feels a lot more doable than, ‘I have to exercise for the rest of my life’! From where you might be sitting on your so comfortable couch, exercising for the rest of your life…..doesn’t necessarily sound all that appealing. So 20 minutes, start there!
Eat Like an Athlete
The other hint that I’m going to give you is, start eating more like an athlete eats. In other words, improving your fitness goes hand in hand with improving your diet. If you have weight to lose, but you keep eating the same way, then it’s that much harder. And some of your health issues will remain. But if you want to reverse aging through exercising, that’s easy to do. If you stoke your ‘fire’ with the right kind of fuel.
I’m not much of a class taker, more of an ‘I Can Do It Myself’ kind of person, but I did once take a fitness class in a Continuing Ed program. Not once was food mentioned. Even though the ladies who were there were obviously hoping to lose a few pounds and get a little healthier. So I’m not going to leave you hanging, like that instructor did. You have to eat differently as well as get moving if it’s your goal to reverse aging through exercising (and eating healthy).
Eating Healthy Brings It’s Own Benefits!
Do you remember when we chatted in another post about eating healthy and the changes that result from it? Well if you look at the listed benefits, there are actually a couple that run parallel to the benefits from getting more physical exercise! Helping you lose or maintain your weight, lowering your blood pressure, preventing diabetes or obesity….that’s three of them. That’s gotta mean a double ‘bang for your buck’ in my opinion!
If you decided to read this and hung in til now, then there’s some part of you that wants to feel better than you do, to feel good and strong and healthy. Over the next few months, I’m planning on sharing more posts and information about other aspects of fitness, health and this stage of life. And if you have any questions, we can talk about them together. Or you can share your success stories! Those are definitely the best kind and I can’t wait to hear from you.
Love to you all and have a great day, wherever you are!
As always, I remind you that while I’ve spent the last 20 years focusing on and learning to ‘grow’ my own health, I’m not a medical doctor. What I’m sharing here is based on my own experiences and the things that I’ve learned from the real experts! Those are the researchers and doctors who’ve seen the actual patients, worked in the labs and write the medical reports that are sprinkled throughout these posts.
My goal is to motivate and help you find your best way to live a healthier and more peaceful life. I and Ageless at Sixty cannot be held liable for any resulting injury or adverse change in health status.
I also advise that any changes that might affect your health status be checked with your accredited physician. This would include changes to your exercise routines and any medications you might be taking or other supplements.
As well, this blog and each post may contain affiliate links. That means that if you buy something through them, I’ll receive a commission, at no extra cost to you.
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