Episode #486 Exercise can age you? Yes, in spite of the long list of benefits and disease-halting, preventing features the wrong exercise can age you. This episode unpacks the pros, cons, how’s, and what’s.
Exercise training is one of the few non-pharmecuetical interventions that improves health span by delaying age-related diseases and preventing early death.
That’s a happy statement that lands a little glum.
“I’m going to workout today to prevent early death,” said no one ever.
So, let’s not forget that with the right exercise you don’t have the negative side effects every drug ever has, you also get the positive benefits of exercise too. Immediate gratification is alive and well for exercisers.
In this episode:
- How could exercise be aging you at worst, or limiting your results ?
- What are telomeres?
- What influences their length
Set the Stage for this post:
The length of your telomeres (on your chromosomes) is one of the main indicators of biological age. They shorten with cellular division. That’s happening constantly as we age. New healthy cells are needed.
To imagine telomeres, you can take yourself back to junior high science and the image of DNA and discussion of chromosomes. For an analogy we can all understand, telemeres are like the little plastic covers on the ends of shoelaces that keep them from fraying. With me? The longer your telomere, the better. In the aging process they shorten.
But telomeres are influenced by many factors.
This is where it gets good. We can influence our telomere length and therefore, change our biological age.
Your telemere length is altered by:
- your diet
- genetic predisposition
- healthy (or not) lifestyle
- But your training status and physical fitness are the major factors that control these kinds of DNA changes.
“TL is positively associated with cardiorespiratory fitness, physical activity level (sedentary, active, moderately trained, or elite) and training intensity, but is shorter in over-trained athletes.”
Even a single bout of [optimal] aerobic exercise may support telomere length. (Learn other immediate benefits from a single bout of exercise here).
“While exercise cannot stop the biological aging process, a rigorous training regime may lead to slower declines in strength or aerobic capacity from their maximal values”
Isolating a discussion to telomeres only is almost impossible. The level of strength and endurance, and ability to control for reduced injuries, influences ability to perform activity that improves telomeres.
For that reason, it’s important to discuss the foundational need for strength training. Especially, that type of challenging strength training that results in muscle fatigue. The use of power, a component of strength + speed, provides an optimal benefit for reaction skills, and maintenance of fast twitch muscle fibers.
Fast Twitch Muscle Loss
Establish a foundation of strength with lower weight and higher repetitions (20-25). The benefit during the first 6-8 weeks is derived from the neural connection (brain to muscle messaging) so starting with too much weight is counterproductive to injury risk and offers no additional benefits.
From there, progress to a reduced repetition range (that will require a heavier weight or a strategic slowing of movement). Maintain this for another 6-8 weeks, gradually introducing some power in latter weeks.
Too Much Exercise and Fat?
In prior posts I’ve shared why too much exercise inhibits your fitness and can prevent weight loss or keep you fat. Women in menopause are much more susceptible to this and the delicate balance of stress, and sleep disruptions.
Aging Backwards Sound Good?
Each quarter Flipping50 opens one exclusive members-only strength training sessions to the public. Learn more here. The 12-week, made-for-menopause program, consists of less, just better strength training-only workouts, a private group and an easy way to fit this life-altering exercise into your life. The program is closed right now. But you can stick a toe in the water if you want to do something while you wait.
Exercise can age you, and if you realize yours might be and isn’t working for you right now, the 5 Day Flip may be a perfect next step.
COLLINS, M., V. RENAULT, L. A. GROBLER, A. ST CLAIR GIBSON, M. I. LAMBERT, E. W. DERMAN, G. S. BUTLER-BROWNE, T. D. NOAKES, and V. MOULY. Athletes with Exercise-Associated Fatigue Have Abnormally Short Muscle DNA Telomeres. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc., Vol. 35, No. 9, pp. 1524–1528, 2003.
Sellami M, Bragazzi N, Prince MS, Denham J, Elrayess M. Regular, Intense Exercise Training as a Healthy Aging Lifestyle Strategy: Preventing DNA Damage, Telomere Shortening and Adverse DNA Methylation Changes Over a Lifetime. Front Genet. 2021;12:652497. Published 2021 Aug 6. doi:10.3389/fgene.2021.652497