Most people think that it’s too late to start exercising in their golden years.
But I have some good news for you. Did you know that exercise actually energizes us “older” folks’ cells more than younger people’s? And it’s never too late to start!
A recent 2017 study published in Cell Metabolism Journal showed that the older participants’ muscle cells actually benefited more from exercising than younger ones. In the experiment, High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) changed the activity levels in almost 400 genes in the older participants, compared to only 274 genes in the younger participants. (These gene activities signal to our cells to do things like grow more muscle, improve insulin sensitivity, and supply oxygen more efficiently). That’s 46% more cell activity in older people!
This means intensive exercise can actually reverse aging’s damaging effect on your muscles’ cellular health. So you can increase your energy and you can keep building strength.
Not only that, but exercise can also keep you younger by almost 8.8 years! Here’s what I mean:
A National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey study of 5,823 adults found that people who live a sedentary lifestyle have much shorter leukocyte telomeres (a part of our DNA molecules, and it’s correlated with our lifespan) than people who are active.
In other words, adults who did high-intensity exercises- such as a 30 minute jog five times per week- reduced their cell aging by 8.8 years (measured by the length of their telomeres).
Of course, you’ve always known that exercise is good for you. But now you know that as you age you benefit more from an active lifestyle. And it can slow down aging even on the cellular level.
But if you’re not a fan of intense exercises, even walking can improve your memory, reverse muscle loss, and prevent disabilities from falls.
Neurologist Peter Snyder conducted a study with 120 men and women between 60 to 80 years old. He found that the participants who walked regularly increased their brain volume by 2%, whereas those who stayed sedentary lost brain volume by 1.5%.
The 3.5% difference means that walking can keep your brain 3.5 years younger. How? Well, when we exercise, there’s a major chemical change inside the hippocampus in the brain. The hippocampus is responsible for many things, especially long-term memory. There, we have an increase in a brain protein called BDNF, which helps us grow new brain cells
This has a major impact on our memory as well. In fact, the active participants had a much better spatial memory at the end of the study compared to the sedentary participants.
What’s more, walking is a “resistance” type of exercise. When you walk, you build stronger muscles, bones, and balance. This makes you less vulnerable to falls that could keep you off your feet for weeks.
So you now know that exercising can help you stay young and ward off cognitive decline. But which ones should you do?
Well, since we’re all different and need to focus on different areas, there’s no “one size fits all” answer. So that’s why you should try different exercises to see what feels right for you, there’s something for everyone. (I enjoy resistance training, but I also enjoy a nice walk with my wife, Viv.)
By Dean Neuls
Dean Neuls is the Co-Founder and CEO of AlgaeCal. He is a natural health author and student of bone health science who is passionate about helping people & bettering lives.