by Matt Weik
There’s no getting around it… Father Time is a bitch. He doesn’t care how nice you are. He doesn’t care how much money you have in the bang. Regardless, we are all going to age. Some of us more gracefully than others, but that youthful appearance you once had in your teen’s and 20’s, you better have some photos because it’s not going to last. So, grab your selfie sticks and start snapping all the photos you want now before Father Time decides to sending things south. The good news from all of this though, is that through intense exercise, we can actually slow down the aging process and science is backing it up.
Throw away the aging creams
Aging creams may work a little, but there’s nothing like good old tossing around the iron, showing the treadmill who’s boss, and getting after it in the gym. This keeps your lean muscle mass in check, body fat under control, and helps keep your skin nice and tight (keeping everything in the places they should be in your body). But, age truly is just a number when your cellular age is in check. When your cellular health is good, it allows your body to function properly and optimally. When cells start dying, morphing, mutating is when adverse effects start becoming apparent and you see your overall health slowly changing and deteriorating. The good news is that researchers are now saying that if you exercise intensely, you might be able to shave off around nine years of your cellular age.
To get a little scientific on you, researchers have looked specifically at telomeres which are the ends of all of our chromosomes. Through our telomeres, scientists can detect our cellular age. If our telomeres are getting smaller, it indicates the aging process. If our telomeres can stay the same size, we can maintain a healthy cellular age. Maintaining their size is not going to come easy. There’s no special diet or pill you can swallow. In order to maintain telomere size, you’re going to need to put in some sweat equity at the gym.
Researchers have looked at telomeres in both active individuals who exercise regularly, as well as those who are sedentary and don’t exercise at all. What they found is that those who exercise regularly with good intensity have longer telomeres than those who don’t exercise at all and sit around all day. Looking at both sides of this spectrum from an appearance standpoint, you can also notice the aging process was a lot nicer to the individuals who engaged in regular exercise whereas the sedentary individuals possessed more body fat and looked noticeably older (skin, face, hair, musculature, cardiovascular output, etc.).
What’s it take to maintain telomere length?
While exercise in general has been linked to improved health and longevity, in order to preserve years on a cellular level, you’re going to need to do some cardio with your weight training. In fact, a fair amount.
In order to save around nine years of life on a cellular level, men are going to need to engage in cardio (such as jogging) for 40 minutes around five days a week. This is to be considered “highly active” according to researchers. Women on the other hand would still need to engage in an activity like jogging five days a week, but they would only be required to hit around 30 minutes each day. Researchers looked at individuals who were following such guidelines for over 30 days in order to see these types of results at a cellular level.
One researcher said, “Just because you’re 40, doesn’t mean you’re 40 years old biologically. We all know people that seem younger than their actual age. The more physically active we are, the less biological aging takes place in our bodies. If you want to see a real difference in slowing your biological aging, it appears that a little exercise won’t cut it. You have to work out regularly at high levels. We know that regular physical activity helps to reduce mortality and prolong life, and now we know part of that advantage may be due to the preservation of telomeres.”
1.) Brigham Young University. “High levels of exercise linked to nine years of less aging at the cellular level: New research shows a major advantage for those who are highly active.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 May 2017.
2.) Larry A. Tucker. “Physical activity and telomere length in U.S. men and women: An NHANES investigation.” Preventive Medicine, 2017; 100: 145 DOI: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2017.04.027