The Easiest (or not) & most effective form of exercise for anti-aging.
Stationary bike that may be more comfortable with lower back problems
Heart rate monitors
Anti aging is quite the buzz word. It's a great marketing term. I wish I came up with it first. The fact of the matter is anti aging doesn't exist. If you’re not aging, your dead. So aging is definitely better than the alternative.
So that leads us to aging gracefully. Aging gracefully or what I like to call "well-aging" or fighting the age clock tooth and nail is all about taking care of your mitochondria — the little energy factories in each cell.
These are literally the power plants of your body that gives each cell the energy it needs to function. These are what produce ATP or the gas for your cells. For you weight lifters and exercise buff out there is is partially how Creatine helps. Creatine helps your body produce ATP resulting more energy available for working out and stronger muscle contractions helping to potentially lift more weight.
As we get older, our cells engine function can start to diminish and become less efficient, 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. Also known as HIIT training
I also often recommend this type of exercise to my clients that get brain fog or mental unclarity. I often coach my clients to do a short 2 minute routine of some sort of appropriate exercise in order to help temporarily clear their brain fog, such as first thing in the AM instead of that extra cup of coffee or around whatever time they start to feel it coming on. Do it before you get it otherwise it tends to be too late.
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. Exercise is can be considered as a type of fountain of youth. Just take a look at some more mature adults that exercise regularly and some that don’t. Pretty easy to see the difference.
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.
So here is what the study looked at.
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: 4 groups to be specific. So we have:
• 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). So a total of only 21 minutes. Thats not very long needed to get some great benefits.
• 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. No surprise there.
But the finding that did surprise researchers was cellular improvement in the interval exercisers.
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. Keep in mind we are talking about epigenetic here, or how your genes are expressed.
We are also talking about mitochondrial function. There are other benefits to weight lifting and gaining muscle mass too, but this blog is about anti-aging exercise and improving mitochondrial function, not gaining muscle mass.
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.
Remember I said that the research was done with only 21 minutes of this type of exercise. Anyone can carve out 21 minutes of exercise in a day. And. it wasn’t even every day. The study was done with people only doing the exercises 3 times per week. Thats what I call minimal effort for maximum gain. Thats my type of exercise.
I hate doing cardio where I have to trudge along for 40-60 minutes at a time while watching the backside of someone sweating in front of me. No thanks!
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. See my previous post on that subject.
One other thing I would like to point out is that the interval training in the duty was done on a stationary bike. While interval training isn’t specific to any type of exercise, I am a HUGE fan of the stationary bike.
You can get a great workout, vary your resistance, its easy on your joints and literally anyone can do it. Even those with lower back pain.
Another great tool to know how hard you’re working it by getting a heart rate monitor that can connect to your phone and track your workouts.
So get out there and do some sprints, do a 2 minute round of burpees or jump some rope.
If you need help aging gracefully or would like to fight tooth and nail screaming and yelling all the way, give my office a call.
You can't outrun aging, but the better shape you in, the longer it takes for your age to catch up to you.
I’m Dr. Craig Mortensen
Be Healthy, Be Happy.