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Best Exercises to Fight Aging

Intervals are about the best cardio you can do.
Intervals are about the best cardio you can do.

There appears to be an exercise program that will literally help keep you younger. Hundreds of studies have been conducted that demonstrate the benefits of cardio exercise and weight training, but none have actually tested various programs against each other and measured the results on a cellular level... until now.

The Mayo Clinic in Rochester Minnesota decided to test three different exercise options on two groups of people. The age range of the first group was 18-30 and the second was between 65 and 80. Half of the 72 subjects were women, the other half men.

Subjects were divided into one of three exercise protocols. One did vigorous weight training, one did high-intensity interval biking, and the last did a combined lighter-weight training and traditional cardio exercise. There was also a remaining group that did nothing except serve as a control.

Biopsies were taken from the volunteers' thigh muscles to compare one group to another, and researchers also measured each test subjects lean muscle mass and insulin sensitivity.

The first part of the results were exactly as anticipated. Subjects who engaged in strength training, put on the most muscle mass and displayed the greatest increases in strength. Subjects who did cardio, improved their endurance levels.

 

The surprising results were from the group that engaged in high-intensity intervals. Their bodies showed increases in both the number and the health of their energy-producing mitochondria and their protein-building ribosomes. What that means is they virtually stopped aging at the cellular level. The high-intensity interval group saw the most significant improvements on a cellular level overall.

You might think the benefits happened primarily with the younger subjects, but you'd be wrong. When comparing the older subjects to the younger ones, researchers found that in some ways, the older subjects responded more robustly to the high-intensity interval exercises. Younger subjects increased their mitochondrial capacity 49%, while the older volunteers saw a huge 69% increase. Interval training also improved the subjects insulin sensitivity. That means they reduced their chances of developing diabetes.

To understand why all this information is so important, you need to know a little about human biology. Brain cells, heart cells and muscle cells all wear out over time and none of them are easily replaced. As we age, cells build up damage which can lead to cell death. But, high-intensity interval exercises and strength training appear to slow down or even prevent deterioration of mitochondria and ribosomes in the muscle cells. The longer we can prolong the life of those cells, the longer we stay looking and feeling younger and healthier.

Researchers pointed out this study wasn't done so they could make recommendations. It was conducted to find out more about how exercise affects people at the cellular level. But the results of this study show, that to fight the ravages of aging, high-intensity intervals 2-3 times a week are absolutely the best program for people to engage in. Regular cardio simply doesn't compare.

Take this information and make a plan. The high-intensity intervals the subjects engaged in was to cycle for 4 minutes at 90% of their peak oxygen consumption, then they followed that with 3 minutes of pedaling at no load. They did that three more times, for a total of 16 minutes working time. Try some sort of similar high-intensity interval program modeled along those lines, 2-3 times a week.

Researchers added something else. The high-intensity interval program wasn't very effective at helping people increase strength. On average, women and men lose 10% of their muscle strength each decade, with women losing a greater percentage at a younger age than men because of gender differences. People that just did intervals wouldn't be stopping or reversing the muscle loss. To fight muscle decline, add strength training for 30-60 minutes, 2-3 times a week.

As the mechanisms and ways to slow down aging are learned, it's up to you to use this information to live a longer and more active life.

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5/20/2017