If one thing is inevitable in life it is that our bodies are going to age. It is a much loved mantra of fitness professionals, but nonetheless very true: exercise keeps you healthy. It boosts your immune system, keeps the mind sharp, helps you sleep, maintains your muscle tone, improves blood flow, keeps niggles at bay and extends your healthy lifespan. But can exercise and the type of exercise we do actually delay the ageing process?
We don’t understand all of the reasons we age. The process of getting older, looking older, and feeling older and the influence of genetics and external factors is still somewhat of a mystery. But here is what we do know: It is possible to adjust your workouts to keep your body“younger” at a cellular level. Before we look at HOW, I will just quickly look at the science behind it.
Over the last couple of decades, all of the evidence researchers have collected indicates that something called mitochondrial dysfunction and the ageing process are intrinsically linked. Mitochondria are the driving force inside your cells that play an important role in:
• Releasing Stored Energy
• Thermogenesis (heat production which burns up calories)
• Storage of Calcium Ions (important for muscles, neurotransmitter release)
• Cell Death
The one thing we know for certain is that the number of mitochondria in your body decreases with age. So keeping mitochondria functioning at optimum capacity, as well as keeping them alive, is important if we are to “delay” the ageing process at cellular level.
So what type of training should you be doing?
Multiple scientific studies have proven that exercise - in particular high-intensity interval training in aerobic exercises such as biking and walking - caused cells to make more proteins for their energy-producing and protein building mitochondria, effectively stopping ageing at the cellular level. Other benefits of HIIT training also showed through studies to improve insulin sensitivity which would help prevent the development of diabetes.
However, it has to be a balance. Interval training improves cardiovascular fitness levels greatly but is less effective at improving muscle strength, which typically declines with ageing. Muscle is somewhat unique because muscle cells divide less than others. Muscle cells wear out and aren't easily replaced, a little like brain and heart cells. However, if exercise restores or prevents deterioration of mitochondria in muscle cells, there is a good chance it does so in other tissues, too.
Understanding the pathways that exercise uses to work its magic may make ageing more targetable. The combination of 1-3 days of interval training and a couple days of strength training combined with a diet packed with essential nutrients such as minerals (such as calcium, zinc and magnesium), omega 3’s ,vitamins (such as D,B6, B12, E) would get you a long way and would be a winning combination if your goal is to keep your body feeling young.
This is just a tip of the iceberg topic as we haven’t yet looked at external factors which have an impact such as the sun, weather including temperature, toxins inside and outside, chemicals, moisturisers, nutrition and hydration to name a few.At Fit For Anything we aim to be clear and concise with each topic we discuss. This approach gives us the opportunity not to overload you in one blog and enables us to provide you with clear and tangible information. We hope you find these useful so please let us know any other topics you would like covered.