Article by Marisa Peer
So exceptional is the ability of regular exercise to reverse ageing, it seems extremely unlikely that any further drug or physician-oriented technique will approach such a benefit
- Exercise is so incredibly effective at slowing down ageing that it seems unlikely that anything will ever be invented that could beat its anti ageing power. However that does not mean you have to spend hours at the gym or running you can do just a few minutes of exercise a day that will dramatically slow down how you age.
- After the age of 35 we stop decrease the amount of HGH – human growth hormone – a substance that keeps us young, repairs tissues and is responsible for bone strength, muscle growth and brain function. The loss of HGH is a major cause of hormonal ageing. The good news is that every time you exercise you make more HGH and as a consequence you delay ageing. We need HGH to remain young but it naturally declines after age 30, however you can receive a steady supply of HGH by exercising regularly. Tests done in America in 1989 gave 28 men, aged from 60 to 80, weekly injections of Human Growth Hormone and they very quickly reversed the age of their bodies by 20 years.
- Telomeres are like caps on shoelaces they are the caps on the end of our chromosomes that protect them from damage. Ageing is influenced by telomeres when they shorten cells die and we age You can boost the length of your telomeres by exercising as regular exercise boosts telomerase an enzyme that makes our telomeres grow longer Stress shortens telomeres so an exercise like yoga or tai chi will help keep them longer and consequently you younger.
Exercise Delays Ageing
- In numerous tests exercising has been proven to prevent muscle wastage and bone loss while maintaining agility and boosting energy levels. Regular and gentle exercise will reverse ageing by 5 years, according to scientist Dr Richard Hochschild, while regular aerobic exercise can cause the heart to be biologically ten years younger. Studies by Harvard and Stanford University involving 17.000 men and women carried out over fifty years found that exercise unquestionably delays ageing. Tests carried out at the Andrus Gerentology Centre in California took over 200 inactive 60 and 70 year olds and placed them on a programme of moderate exercise and found they became as fit as people 30 years younger, with energy levels to match. In another study people between the ages of 80 to 90 years who did gentle and regular exercise doubled their strength, even gentle exercise will reverse ageing by 10%. Swimming, walking, yoga and tai chi are all excellent because they are easy to do and don’t put any strain on the body. Exercise can reverse ten major effects of ageing such as blood pressure, increased body fat, decreasing muscle mass, hearing, and bone density. Exercise strengthens heart muscles so the heart is a more efficient pump. Exercise can even improve hearing and improves memory. Studies show that sixty year olds who had not exercised for years and who had lacked muscle tone for 15 years, once put on a weight training programme, could gain muscle mass equal to that of someone of 21 and their energy levels could match someone in their early twenties. You don’t need to overdo exercise or strain your body to get excellent results gentle exercise is just as effective.
- Bengt Saltin a Swedish Physiologist ran some tests in the 1960s where he got 5 men, two of whom were athletes, to lie in bed for three weeks as he monitored the bodies response to extended disuse. His results showed that within just 21 days their aerobic capacity diminished so rapidly it was equivalent to 20 years of ageing. When they began to exercise again they were able to reverse the results, further proof that exercise reverses ageing. If you stay inactive for 24 hours your muscle tissue starts to decline, if you have to endure even short periods of bed rest your bones quickly lose minerals and become weaker and more prone to breaking, your muscles shrink and you begin to experience skin and muscle wasting. The major cause of muscle loss as we age is being inactive.
- In tribes and cultures where daily exercise is the norm osteoporosis and osteoarthritis rarely occur. It has been proven again and again that we cannot wear out our bodies by using them the way they where intended to be used. We don’t wear out and too much rest can be the worst thing for our body and for muscle and skeletal ageing.
- Not exercising is harder work than exercising Dr De Vries at the Gerentology centre in California states “It is the body so unused to activity that tires at the slightest effort”. The great thing about exercise is that once you begin to exercise you start to enjoy it and want to continue. It is never too late to begin exercising. Tufts University ran an 8 week strength training programme taking old and frail people and involving them in a gentle programme of weight bearing exercises. The results found that women and men between the ages of 87 and 96 years could increase their muscle size and strength by 300% within just eight weeks, while also improving co-ordination and balance. Even to begin exercising at 90 will benefit your body but don’t wait, start to exercise now and you will reverse ageing in so many ways.
- When we stop using our bodies they begin to fade and wither away. This is Disuse Syndrome, a syndrome when the body stops exercising and begins to rapidly and prematurely age. Lack of exercise produces changes in the body that parallel the changes we experience with ageing, some instances of rapid ageing are not symptoms of ageing at all, but symptoms of disuse of the body, because of failure to use it through exercise. Numerous tests on ageing people show that exercise reverses their symptoms and prevents them reoccurring for many years.
Three 5 minute exercises that reverse ageing
Feet shorten as we age, the arch of the foot collapses and many older people shuffle instead of walking. There is a specific exercise that will lengthen the foot arch and is very easy to do while watching tv so instead of shuffling like an old person you have the young foot arches of a ballerina.
1. To keep the arch of the foot in good condition; kneel on a carpet without shoes and with your bottom resting on your heels and with your palms or fingers placed on the floor either side of your knees. Keeping your body weight distributed between your bottom and hands and your back reasonably straight, lift both your knees together off the floor and hold that position. The higher you can raise your knees the more of a stretch you will feel in the arch of your foot. Do this several times and hold for about twenty seconds. You can get equally good results if you kneel but have your arms out ahead of you holding on to a chair or table for extra support.
This exercise keeps your hair thick and glossy and slows down hair loss
2. Kneel on the floor and clasp your hands out in front of you so you are making a basket with your hands. Keep your elbows and your forearms pressing into the floor then lean forward and make sure the crown of your head is resting in your hands, keep the crown of your head on the floor for about 2-5 minute. This forces blood supply to your hair follicles and to your scalp keeping your hair thick and glossy. Its a simpler version of the same inversion that gives most yogis long flowing locks but you don’t need to stand on your head just do this a few times a week for effects that are just as impressive.
Rebounding gets rid of bags under your eyes
Rebounding gets rid of bags under your eyes, James White an exercise physiologist in California put half of a group of previously inactive older women on a rebounding programme and noted those on the rebounders looked younger than the group that remained inactive, their skin tone and colouring improved, their wrinkles diminished and so, to his amazement did the bags under their eyes and these changes occurred within a matter of weeks.
3.Trampolining for 10-15 minutes three or four times a week is a fantastic anti-ageing tool. Its excellent for reversing and slowing down cellular ageing because rebounding stimulates your production of lymph, which is essential for looking and feeling healthy. We have more lymph in our body than we have blood, however the lymph does not have a pump so we need to take regular deep diaphragmatic breaths and move a lot to allow the lymph to move around the body. Muscle movement and gravity are meant to keep lymph flowing, pump lymph back through its channels and eliminate waste. Running, rebounding, jumping, skipping, swimming and other forms of aerobic exercise encourage correct lymph activity and flush wastes from tissue fluids. Using a mini trampoline, for just a few minutes is excellent for promoting correct lymph movement. We eliminate waste through our skin, lungs, kidneys and colon. Up to a third of waste elimination is through the skin our sweat glands are meant to expel a minimum of one pound of waste material daily. When they don’t, because our bodies are not working at peak efficiency, this waste can remain in our system accelerating ageing.
Exercise slows down mental ageing too
Physical exercise is more effective at slowing down ageing than the mental workout you get by doing crosswords or Suduko, even walking can improve memory. Exercise can improve how the brain functions and keep it in peak condition for longer. Studies are increasingly proving that exercise can improve memory and processing speed, and slow down mental decline.. Regular exercise may keep Alzheimer’s at bay – even in those whose genes put them in the dementia risk category.
A study of people in their 60s, 70s and 80s found that being active at least three times a week stopped the brain from shrinking even in those with a common gene called APOE-e4. Walking, jogging, swimming and cycling protected them from brain deterioration. It seems that soon regular exercise will be prescribed to prevent Alzheimer’s and Dementia. Evidence is also mounting regarding exercise and its beneficial effects on Parkinson’s disease
Our brain shrinks as we age
Our brain shrinks as we age, and the hippocampus, the brain’s memory hub is particularly vulnerable in those at genetic risk of dementia. Kirk Erickson, an expert in the ageing brain, said: “This is the first study to look at how physical activity might impact the loss of hippocampal volume in people at genetic risk for Alzheimer’s disease.
There are no other treatments shown to preserve hippocampal volume in those that may develop Alzheimer’s disease.”
The APOE-e4 gene is carried by up to 30% of the population. It increases the risk of Alzheimer’s but not everyone with the suspect DNA will develop the disease.
The latest finding suggests that exercise may be one of the factors that decides if a brain can overcome its genetic inheritance. The researchers measured the brain size of four groups of pensioners at the start and end of the 18-month study. The study found that even those with a common Alzheimer’s gene called APOE-e4 were protected by brisk walking, jogging, swimming and cycling.
The amount of exercise they did was monitored and they were tested for the APOE-e4 gene.
The only brain shrinkage to occur in those with the gene where in the group who did little or no exercise. Those with the gene who exercised moderately three times a week or more were protected, the journal Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience reports.
Researcher Dr J. Carson Smith, of the University of Maryland, said: ‘We found that physical activity has the potential to preserve the volume of the hippocampus in those with increased risk for Alzheimer’s disease, which means we can possibly delay cognitive decline and the onset of dementia symptoms in these individuals.
‘Physical activity interventions may be especially potent and important for this group.’
Marisa is the author of You Can Be Younger – How to slow down physical & mental ageing Piatkus £12.99
Rebounder image credit: freedigitalphotos