Tag Archives: aging

Best form of exercise for graceful aging

interval exercise mitochondria copy

Aging gracefully is all about taking care of your mitochondria — the little energy factories in each cell. As we get older, their function can start to diminish, which plays a key role in aging of the body. However, new research has shown a little-known strategy to boost the longevity and function of your mitochondria — regular bursts of high intensity exercise.

People are told to exercise for all sorts of reasons, but regular exercise is one of life’s magic bullets when it comes to remaining physically and mentally agile into the elder years. Any kind of regular exercise is better than none when it comes to health and longevity.

However, when it comes to nurturing cellular mitochondria and thus better preserving your overall health, one form of exercise outshines the rest — intervals of high intensity exercise. This means an exercise routine that boosts the heart rate to healthy upper thresholds for several minutes at a time.

How different forms of exercise affect aging

Although any regular physical activity makes for a better aging process, a recent Mayo Clinic study showed different types improve aging in different ways.

The study divided healthy but sedentary men and women under the age of 30 and over the age of 64 into several groups of exercise:

  • Vigorous weight-lifting several times a week.
  • Interval training three times a week on stationary bikes (they did three sets of pedaling hard for four minutes and resting for three minutes).
  • Alternated between mild weight lifting and moderate pedaling on a stationary bike throughout the week.
  • No exercise.

Not surprisingly, all the groups who exercised reported better blood sugar control and fitness after three months of regular exercise. The vigorous weight lifters gained muscle mass while the interval exercises gained more endurance.

But the finding that surprised researchers was cellular improvement in the interval exercisers as demonstrated by the number of genes changed, resulting in improved mitochondrial function in their respective cells. The under-30 interval exercisers showed changes in 274 genes, compared to 170 genes in the young moderate mixed exercise group and 74 genes in the young weight lifters.

However, the older interval exercisers showed changes in 400 genes, compared to only 19 for the older moderate exercisers and 33 for the older weight lifters.

In other words, interval exercising is the most advantageous at any stage of life, but it’s significantly more advantageous the older you are compared to other forms of exercise.

How interval exercise improves the aging process

Researchers theorize interval training is beneficial because it increases the number and health of cellular mitochondria. This means more energy for muscles (including the heart), better brain function, and better recovery and regeneration.

The fact that the older participants had more robust responses to high intensity interval training shows it is never too late to exercise, especially if you do the most beneficial kind. Another bonus? You can extract the most gains in the least amount of time from interval exercise, which requires less time than other forms.

How to interval train for better cellular health

To interval train simply push yourself to your maximum effort for several minutes several times in your routine, with short periods of rest in between sets. Work within your capacity and don’t over train — over exercising causes inflammation and can damage mitochondria.

Ask me for more advice on the best way to exercise for optimal health.

The key to staying youthful is to embrace aging

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Aging can cause us to feel invisible and unwanted in a society that worships youth. However, the key to staying youthful into your latter years doesn’t lay in the hands of your hair stylist or medical spa, but instead in your attitude.

Research shows internalizing negative stereotypes about aging harms your health, which speeds up aging. However, having a positive attitude toward aging can boost immune function, promote healthy behaviors, and help you feel in control of your life.

Embrace aging for the following benefits

Here are some benefits researchers have found to a positive perception of aging, such as feeling useful and happy with yourself:

  • Positive perception of aging has been shown to be more important than cholesterol, blood pressure, weight, and even exercise when it comes to improving longevity.
  • One study found positive self-perception around aging lowered the risk of aging-associated disability and preserved daily function and ability.
  • Positive aging improves preventive behaviors such as sticking to a good diet, exercising, and following through with check-ups.
  • Expecting to lose your memory has been shown to increase cognitive decline by up to 30 percent compared to thinking positively about your brain function.
  • And of course, a negative perception of aging has been shown to increase the risk of heart disease. A startling find, however, was that developing a positive aging attitude can reduce the risk of heart disease by up to 80 percent.

How to positively embrace aging

Although you might not be able to embrace aging overnight, it can be done, even in this culture. The first step is to survey your attitude about aging and what you believe old age holds in store for you: Senility and disability? Or wisdom and vitality?

Beyond that, turn your attention away from a cultural philosophy that values people based on their work productivity and instead toward one that values aging as socially valuable and even a time of renaissance.

Some nuts and bolts of healthy aging

A positive attitude has been shown to be vital to good health. However, it’s important to pay attention to the nuts and bolts of good health, too.

Regular exercise is regarded as somewhat of a magic bullet by researchers. People who exercise regularly age better and enjoy better brain function throughout their lives.

Along with that that comes a diet low in sugars and processed carbs — chronically high blood sugar is behind many chronic diseases and brain degeneration. In fact, some researchers call Alzheimer’s disease type 3 diabetes because of the links between high blood sugar and brain degeneration.

Avoiding other inflammatory foods (besides sugar, gluten and dairy are the most common inflammatory foods) while loading up on fresh veggies is another preventive dietary approach.

Lastly, healthy aging depends on a healthy, nutrient-dense diet that is rich in fresh vegetables as well as healthy fats.

Schedule an appointment with me to discuss more about how to age in a healthy, positive way you can embrace.