Is Vigorous Exercise the Fountain of Youth?

We are constantly inundated with ads from products that claim to slow the aging process and regain our youth, without any real work or change in our lifestyle. Unfortunately, none of them have even been proven to live up to their claims. Now, researchers may have unlocked a portion of the legendary fountain of youth!

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In a recently published study from Brigham Young University that compared results between vigorously active, moderately active and sedentary individuals, those in the group of vigorous exercisers were found to have a nine year biological age advantage versus those with sedentary lifestyles. There was also a seven year advantage versus those in the moderately active group. According to Exercise Professor Larry Tucker, who led the study, “If you want to see a real difference in slowing your biological aging, it appears that a little exercise won’t cut it,” Tucker said. “You have to work out regularly at high levels”.

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In the program, some 5,800 participants were studied, and the impact of exercise on the length of the telomeres in their DNA was analyzed. Telomeres are often referred to as our biological clocks, and they are extremely connected to our biological ages. When our cells replicate, they shorten a tiny bit. When they shorten to a certain point, they stop being able to divide, and then they become inactive or die. In the study, those who practiced regular intense exercise saw the mass of their telomeres remain sufficiently greater to provide a biological advantage of nine years over those with sedentary habits.

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Scientists and researchers have long advocated exercise as a major positive impact on our health, and now this study shows that it can also add to the length of our lives. The study also found little difference in telomere length between the moderately active and the sedentary groups.

HIIT training could be the ideal higher intensity exercise program. Featured in programs like our own pulse45 and some of our Oakwood Les Mills classes, HIIT, or High Intensity Interval Training, allows the participant to exercise at a level to raise their heart rate, then allow their body to recover while still retaining the elevated heart rate and corresponding calorie burn. This recovery period allows the body to rest, therefore being able to exercise for a longer period, but burn calories like the exercise was constant for the entire time.

Jim Harris