According to a New York Times article, “Does Exercise Slow the Aging Process,” Gretchen Reynolds reported that almost any amount and type of physical activity may slow aging deep within our cells, a new study finds. And middle age may be a critical time to get the process rolling, at least by one common measure of cell aging. If any of us needed another good reason to make exercise a habit that study certainly provides it. Learn about five ways exercise can slow the aging process to keep your motivation running high.
Exercise helps preserve telomeres
Scientists can determine the biological age of a cell by measuring the length of the cell’s telomeres. Telomeres are like caps at the end of DNA strands. They are thought to protect the DNA. These ends fray as cells age, although age is not the only factor. Lifestyle habits and health concerns like smoking, diabetes, obesity and even insomnia may also cause telomeres to shrink. Exercise can help. Studies have shown that athletes and even people that walk regularly have longer telomeres than people who are sedentary.
Exercise adds years to your life
According to a Harvard Health Publications article a Harvard Alumni study on mortality rates found that men who had not been active earlier in life but began exercising in middle age benefited from a 24% lower death rate than their counterparts who remained inactive. The maximum benefits were linked to the equivalent of walking for about 45 minutes a day at about 17 minutes per mile.
Exercise protects heart and health
Heart disease is the number one killer of men in the United States. Increasingly, more women are succumbing to heart disease as well. Exercise has been shown to strengthen the heart, but that’s not all. It reduces age related loss of mobility and protects against dementia, too.
Exercise boosts skin health
According to a study reported in the New York Times, exercise may slow and even reverse aging in skin. Participants ranging in age from 20 to 84 exercised for three hours every week during the study. At the end of the study, researchers found that participants had visibly younger looking skin. Results were evident even in participants older than 65.
Exercise boosts brain health
Exercise supports the growth of new brain cells. That’s good news because a healthy brain boosts cognition and memory.
Exercise reduces inflammation
Unchecked inflammation in the body has been linked to everything from arthritis, heart disease, insomnia, cancer and more. All of these impact quality of life and are potentially life shortening. Exercise has been shown to reduce the damaging effects of inflammation in the body.
Of course there is no way to stop aging. Still, we can exercise to increase our chances of aging well. Many of the conditions we associate and fear about aging are not a given. Exercise can help us maintain mobility and overall quality of life even into our golden years.