Reverse Aging with the Right Exercise
Longevity may have been the buzzword in health and medicine last year. From fasting to fitness it was all about increasing the lifespan. Yet living longer without living better isn’t what most of us are dreaming about. If a better “healthspan” is what you’re looking for, you’re in the right place. This post is full of science proof that the right exercise can indeed turn back the clock and reverse aging.
1. How Not to Die
Before we get better at aging we’ve got to stop dying. Older adults who strength train at least twice a week have a 46 percent lower odds of death for any reason than those who don’t. They also have a 41 percent lower odds of cardiac death and 19 percent lower odds of dying from cancer.
Overall older adults who are strength training enough to meet recommended guidelines are healthier. They’ve got normal body weight, engage in aerobic exercise and to abstain from alcohol and tobacco.
2. Express or Suppress Your DNA
Mom and Dad may have given you dimples or your eye color but they aren’t to blame or thank for how you’re aging. Your environment and habits, referred to as epigenetics, controls how your genes are expressed. Strength training reversed the expression of 179 genes associated with aging. Not slowing aging but reversing it.
Mitochondria play a big role in aging. Your mitochondria are responsible for energy production at every level. Until recently it was accepted that mitochondria production declined with aging. Today, we know otherwise. Exercise, in fact strength training, has a big influence on mitochondrial function.
Mitochondrial impairment is reversed within 6 months of twice per week strength training. Start lifting weights to reverse aging. It’s never too late.
3. Reverse Aging with Prevention of Muscle Loss
One of the most visible signs of aging is frailty due to loss of muscle. You can reverse aging related muscle losses if you’re strength training correctly.
Muscle losses begin at age 30 for adults who aren’t proactively doing strength training to prevent it. While any exercise is good stimulus for muscles, strength training is best. It’s not a simple matter of just any strength training or just any muscle though. You lose fast twitch muscle fibers twice as fast as you lose slow.
Those fast twitch fibers keep you from falling if you hit a patch of ice or catch your shoes on the corner of a rug. The speed of your reaction skills is thanks to your fast twitch fibers. There’s another thing to love about fast twitch fibers though.
Fast twitch muscle fiber development reduces fat. Develop your fast twitch muscle fiber by strength training. To a lesser extent you can add a few minutes of fast agility drills to your workouts a few times a week.
The evidence is pretty compelling that to reverse aging you need to move and move around some weights, right?
In a recent poll 61% of midlife women report sexual dysfunction (or disinterest) and 53.6% of the same audience polled reported they had done no exercise in the last 6 months. There’s a definite correlation.
Exercise enhances positive body image. Strength training is the type of exercise most likely to change your body composition andproportions. It has the ability to reshape the body in a way other exercise does not.
Libido or intimacy are discussed in the aging literature far less than topics like bone mass and strength or cognition. Intimacy does decline with age more dramatically in inactive, deconditioned adults. It’s an integral part of a healthy relationship.
5. Change Your Bone Density Status
To successfully reverse agingeffects on bone mineral density, exercise is critical. There’s much emphasis on calcium, D, and magnesium. Though not unimportant, recent research suggest overall nutrition coupled with the right type of exercise at the right time of life is the best strategy.
The earlier literature and that out most recently still point to strength training with heavy weight training, or implementing a power component as the best way to reverse aging. Vertebral bone height and hip (femoral neck) bone density increased with high intensity progressive strength training. That’s no secret.
Note that while any exercise offers some bone building benefit especially if you’ve been previously sedentary, there is a continuum.
Where “other” exercise activities are concerned you want to be a critical thinker. Many studies results may provide false hope if you dig deep to find that the control group of non-exercisers is the comparison for significant change.
If bone density is your number one priority you can liken it to having a pipe break in your house. You’re probably not going to call an electrician or your handyman neighbor, right? You’re going to call in the best person to do the job.
It’s both the exercise you do and the way you do it, known as the protocol that’s important. For bones, progressively increase the weight you can lift with joints that will tolerate it, to lifting 10 or fewer repetitions to fatigue for optimal bone density benefit. For more information and all the resources on Bone Health, click here.
For years hot flashes were something you were lucky enough to avoid or you had to suffer through them. They may not belong in this post about how exercise can reduce aging as well as the others. But if you want to reduce them or avoid them, there’s still a chance. After 16 weeks of moderate training hot flashes were significantly decreased in midlife women.
Women tend to notice both the severity or intensity of hot flashes decreases. Improvements are tied most to cardiorespiratory exercise-provided it’s intense enough – thanks to the increased vasodilation that occurs.
If you’re exercise regularly thinking it’s not working for you, you may not be hitting the intensity mark enough to influence results. Internal training is going to help a lot more than a stroll and even than a brisk walk.
7. Improve Heart Health
Combined strength training and cardiovascular training is related to decreased hypertension more than aerobic only or other modes of mobility training such as yoga or Pilates.
8. Control Your Body Composition in Menopause & Beyond
Reverse aging and the related fat deposits. The more time women spent lifting and the more intensely they trained the lower their body fat and the more fat-free mass they tend to have.
Researchers of this study interpreted that reduced body fat was not just a result of the strength training but the influence it has on the rest of life. Women who lifted weights spend more time doing other activities – sports, their own housework, leisure hobbies like gardening, dog walking.
It all counts. Keep in mind a little exercise is good, a lot – if it leaves you on the couch to recover – is not better. The sweet spot is that exercise that leaves you full of more energy, stamina, and strength to pursue life outside the gym!
Anxiety and depression affect 25% of women in menopause and women are two times more likely to suffer from both later in life than men. They’re also more likely to live longer, therefore suffer longer.
Weight training is widely accepted as a means of reducing signs of depression and anxiety as well as boosting mood in healthy adults.
There are a few things to consider when you’re planning or assessing your current exercise program to reverse aging. First, start. Any exercise is good. When you are doing something not seeing results, it may be time to get specific about your goal and the matching exercise.
10. Just How Do You Exercise to Reverse Aging?
Two tips to keep in mind, also recent research-based, about not just how to enjoy the benefits but specifically what do to to reverse aging with exercise. (Because, you can fly under the radar and miss opportunities with too little exercise and you can also put the limits and accelerate aging).
Ditch the more is better mentality. The maximum recommended amount of high intensity interval training (HIIT) per week is 40-45 minutes. That could be done in a single session but for many women it’s more ideal to break this into tow 20-25 minute sessions or three 15-minute sessions. Then balance those with other less demanding workouts.
When you increase the intensity of your workouts you only increase the potential for increasing results. The wins come from the recovery days between. The law of diminishing returns applies to intense workouts, especially for older adults, not because they’re frail but because recovery time does increase with age.
To do as much or more and reverse aging, recovery like a boss at 50 and 60+. Stay tuned for the upcoming ultimate Flipping 50 guide to non-exercise days.
Spend the Right Amount of Time
This tip runs parallel to the last but it’s not just your interval training you want to keep to a minimum. If you want to reverse aging, across the board the higher the intensity the more results but only if you reduce the volume. Good news if you’re guilting yourself about time to exercise. Bad news if you are patting yourself on the back for exercising for hours doing Pilates sessions and walking and … all those low intensity exercises don’t add up the same.
Get your high intensity in and then sprinkle lower intensity sessions between.
Just 15 minutes of short duration high intensity strength training 5x a week compared to 40 minutes 5x a week resulted in no statistical differences in body composition. Have you done the math? That’s 90 minutes total a week vs. 3 hours and 20 minutes minutes a week showed the same amount of improvements.
Now, play attention. I don’t advocate breaking muscle groups up into days of the week if you want to optimize your metabolism and allow for best recovery I’ve emphasized above.
It’s clear again that LESS exercise is more. Provided you make it of the right intensity and targeted for YOUR HORMONES.
There are studies underway to look at high intensity low volume exercise compared to continuous aerobic exercise effects on Metabolic Syndrome and insulin resistance with the hypothesis that high intensity low volume weight training is far more effective in changing body composition.
From the research shared in this post, I’d say you could place a bet with pretty good odds. Take it home. Look around you. Start quizzing those people who look the best, have the fewest wrinkles, the best outlook, and laugh the most. 10-to-1 they’re exercising right.
Since a Flipping 50 STRONGER pilot program that began in July I’ve run a midlife and beyond women’s-only 12-week strength training program. We did it as a pilot study and are now in the second full program as this post goes up. The comments that come back:
“I started this program to lose fat, to get toned arms, to learn how to safely lift weights, but I got my life back. I got me back.”
“I see it and I feel stronger!”
Strength can start inside or outside. You can reverse aging both in your body and in your mind. Women influence 80% of all household decisions. Many of them are influencing boardroom decisions as well.
Strong women change the world.
You are just getting started.
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