The best anti-aging medicine? Exercise. Regular exercise not only helps you feel fit, exercise can fight aging at the cellular level and mitigate or reverse its negative effects. Feeling as if it may be too late for you? There is great news: research shows that even if you start exercising later in life, it still has a powerful impact upon health and longevity.
A 2013 Harvard study found that exercise can be at least as effective as prescription drugs when it comes to the prevention of conditions such as heart disease, stroke or diabetes. Even a lack of muscle is now seen, not as a side-effect of frailty or disease..but as a cause.
Exercise can help prevent the shortening of our telomeres. Exercise reduces the shortening, it lengthens and creates healthy telomeres. Telomeres are essentially protective caps that are like bookends on the ends of our chromosomes which help protect our DNA. When our cells divide, and with each division, our telomeres naturally and gradually shorten. This gradual shortening leads to the aging of the cell. But the process can be accelerated by obesity, smoking, insomnia, diabetes, poor diet and other aspects of health and lifestyle. When the telomere becomes too short and frayed, the cell dies (think faster aging).
Research has shown that exercise has anti-inflammatory benefits. It has been found that, in general, people who exercise have lower levels of inflammation, which is one way to help your body stay young – as low-level inflammation hastens aging. Low-level inflammation is the core cause of most illness, disease, faster-aging and weight gain.
Do something every day to challenge your body. Ensure you add activity to your daily life. If you are sedentary, start out with small goals such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Research shows that even moderate exercise has powerful effects. To reap the benefits, you must be consistent which means scheduling your exercise and honoring that time and day as you would a doctor appointment.
Many of the changes that people attribute to aging are actually caused by disuse. Using your body will keep it young. All forms of exercise boosts mood and improves sleep, countering anxiety and depression. In addition, exercise improves reflex time and helps stave off age-related memory loss.
LORI SHEMEK, Ph.D., is a leading researcher in fat cells and the owner of DLSHealthWorks, a company she created to help men and women conquer their issues with weight and self-esteem. Her work has been featured in Ladies’ Home Journal, Shape, Woman’s Day, The Rikki Lake Show, ABC, CNN, NPR, FOX News, and The Huffington Post, which recognized her as one of the nation’s top diet and nutrition experts.
Dr. Shemek holds a Doctorate in Psychology; she is a Certified Nutritional Consultant and a Certified Life Coach.
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