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Could we reverse the aging process with regular exercise?

Posted by Bold Commerce Collaborator on

Could we reverse the aging process with regular exercise?

As we age, it’s natural to start avoiding the calendar for fear of how quickly the months seem to be passing. However, rather than counting candles on the cake every year, recent studies are adding more and more credibility to the importance of your “physiological” age, focusing on your body’s capacity for exercise to dictate longevity, rather than your chronological age. 

New research says your number of candles isn’t that important

To test the accuracy of the physiological age in predicting longevity, researchers followed over 125,000 people for about 24 years, putting them through a series of cardio tests that got their heart and lungs working. Eventually, they developed an “Age Based on Exercise Stress Testing,” or “A-BEST.” 

The A-BEST told researchers what age the subjects should be, based on their performance rather than their ”real.” The study concluded that your A-BEST is a more accurate predictor of how long you’ll live than chronological age, because it looks at your fitness and health separate from the preconceived standards of your age group. (1)

This is not the first time exercise has been linked with living longer, as several studies have shown that consistent cardio can slow the development of age-related complications, specifically in reducing the risk of cardio vascular disease (CVD) in middle-aged populations. (2)

Should we all start running marathons?

You’ll be happy to know that, if you’re simply wanting to maintain your health as you age, there’s no need for you to start running miles and miles every week. There is new research to suggest that 150 minutes of exercise per week can help keep your muscle strength up, your brain functioning optimally and your heart healthy. (2)

This new information has struck a cord with a whole swath of people living day-to-day on packed schedules, who need to get more out of each workout in much less time. Rather than heading out with the sunrise for a lengthy run before work or spending hours at the gym adding more and more reps to their workout, more people are moving toward HIIT workouts that can take as little as 20 minutes, but give you the benefit of cardio and strength training in a single workout. This type of workout can lower cortisol levels, helping to lower inflammation in the body which protects you even further from the damages of aging. HIIT also allows even the busiest schedule to accommodate a healthy workout. 

On the other hand, many fitness enthusiasts and average joes alike are looking to low-impact forms of exercise like yoga, pilates, cycling and even walking as a way to include mindfulness in their daily movement, while still working their heart and muscles. There has been a recent ideology shift from exercise as a form of punishment, to a focus on increasing and maintaining mobility, listening to your body and being aware of the flow of your movement.

Whether you’re looking for a simple way to keep your body moving as you age, or whether you’re looking to get ahead of the aging process and stave off the inevitable physical and cognitive decline before it starts, it’s important to remember that movement is key, no matter what it is.

How much of a difference can it really make? 

A study published in the journal of Applied Physiology found that the muscles of active 70-year-olds were essentially identical to the muscles of active 25-year-olds, and the 70-year-olds appeared to be biologically 30 years younger than their chronological age. 

You may think that these senior citizens must be professional athletes, or maybe they ran every day for the last 40 years, but the seniors in this study were simply averagely active. They jogged a bit, went for brisk walks, participated in weekly swimming or cycling — nothing out of the ordinary, and yet they were able to immensely slow the negative effects of aging on their bodies. (3)

I’m already into my middle years, is it too late to start now?

It’s never too late to start taking care of your body, and if you can dedicate time to movement you are benefiting your mind, muscles, bones and your heart. Even if you have never exercised regularly in your life, it is never too late for you to pick up a new habit.

While getting your heart rate up and sweat flowing with HIIT is a definite way to keep your heart healthier as you age, you can also protect your muscles from suffering over time with mindful, slow-paced workouts, one of the best being tai chi. Even strapping on your runners and heading out for a lap around the park can majorly benefit your body, helping to fend off muscle weakness and keep your heart on its toes, so to speak. Studies have even shown that engaging in regular cardio as you age can lower your risk of dementia, even if that cardio is simply walking, and that cardio can also improve the health of your skin, helping it to look and feel younger. (4)

What’s the takeaway?

The short of it is, stop worrying about the calendar and get moving, because the best thing you can do for your body as you age is make sure you’re getting your heart pumping, legs moving and muscles working on a regular basis. 

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