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September 5, 2011

Exercise to Slow Down Aging Process

slow down aging processCan Exercise Slow Down Aging Process?

Speed up the pace at which you exercise and slow down the aging process.  The hot topic in anti-aging medicine is preserving telomere length.  By preserving telomeres it is possible to slow down aging process.  One of the best ways to preserve your telomeres is to perform high intensity interval training.

The health benefits of exercise are numerous.   See “What Are the Health Benefits of Exercise”.  Lack of exercise capacity, in fact, is a better predictor of death than is smoking.

What Are Telomeres?

Telomeres are repetitive strands of DNA at the ends of our chromosomes.  They protect the chromosomes.  The only problem is every time a cell divides in response to injury or illness telomeres get shorter and shorter.  Eventually telomeres become too short to protect the chromosomes and when that happens the cell dies or becomes non-functional.

More Exercise the Longer the Telomeres

Individuals who exercise have longer telomeres than those that don’t and that’s true after controlling for other life-style habits.  A study on telomere length and exercise among identical and non-identical twins found that those who exercise vigorously 3 times a week were nine years younger biologically than those who exercise less than 15 minutes a day.   And, those who performed 90 minutes of moderate exercise a week were 4 years younger biologically than those who did not exercise.

Aerobic Versus Anaerobic Exercise

Any exercise is better than doing nothing.  But, for overall general health and fitness anaerobic exercise provides more benefit, and can be done many times in less time.

Anaerobic exercise does not require oxygen for metabolism and relies on energy sources stored in the muscles, which get depleted fairly rapidly.  Therefore, anaerobic or high intensity exercise can only be performed for short periods.

High intensity interval training involves performing short bursts of activities (eventually at 100% effort) followed by periods of rest and repeated several times for generally 20 minutes or so.  It is both aerobic and anaerobic.

High intensity interval training stimulates the body to release growth hormone, which has many health benefits.  In fact, 8 to 10 seconds of exercise performed at 90% or more of maximal effort is enough to trigger release of growth hormone.

High intensity interval training also raises metabolism for a longer period of time than does aerobic exercises turning the body into a fat burning machine.

In addition, high intensity interval training is a better way of improving VO2max, the best indicator of exercise capacity, than is aerobic exercises, which are typically performed at approximately 70% of maximal effort.

How to Perform High Intensity Exercises

Nearly any type of exercise can be used to perform high intensity interval training. There are many protocols to perform high intensity interval training.  One of the better know methods is the Tabata Protocol where an exercise is performed as fast as possible for 20 seconds followed by a 10 second rest period and repeated 8 times for 4 minutes.  After a rest additional exercises can be performed in the same manner.  An example of the Tabata Protocol is below.

Another protocol involves 30 seconds of high intensity exercise followed by anywhere from 30 seconds to 90 seconds of rest depending on one’s fitness level.  Or you can try one minute of exercise followed by a minute of rest and repeat it several times.

Be sure to warm-up for at least 5 minutes before performing high intensity exercises and if you currently do not exercise ease into it by performing the exercise at lower levels of intensity with longer periods of rest until your body adapts and improves becoming functionally younger.

So pick up the pace during exercise and slow down aging process.

See related articles.

“7 Anti Aging Tips”

“Anti Ageing Treatments that Work”

“Natural Metabolism Boosters”

“Slow Aging with these Healthy Habits”


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Dr. Joe Jacko

Dr. Joe is board certified in internal medicine and sports medicine with additional training in hormone replacement therapy and regenerative medicine. He has trained or practiced at leading institutions including the Hughston Clinic, Cooper Clinic, Steadman-Hawkins Clinic of the Carolinas, and Cenegenics. He currently practices in Columbus, Ohio at Grandview Primary Care. Read more about Dr. Joe Jacko

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