Here’s a great reason to put our hibernating days behind us: Research shows that exercise just might be one of the most effective ways to combat aging. Not to mention it helps you lose weight, sleep better, look better and so much more. Here’s what the research says and some ways to get inspired to spring into shape!
Exercise and Aging: The Research
While it is no secret that exercise is good for you, new research has found it may actually slow down aging. At Canada’s McMaster University, researchers found that endurance exercise cut short the aging process in mice–in spite of the fact that they were engineered to age faster. After several months of a treadmill exercise routine, these mice continued to appear as young as the normal mice that were not engineered to age faster. Additionally, researchers found that the exercise program prevented premature aging in almost every organ of the mice; in some cases, the organs were even made better with the exercise! Overall, the research noted that the exercise routine provided almost perfect protection against muscle and brain atrophy and graying fur.
What’s more, after five months of a regular treadmill workout, the mice’s mitochondria (which you could think of as cell powerhouses) went from damaged to young and healthy. So, not only can exercise help prevent an early death; it can delay the very process that ages you!
Get Active Every Day to Look and Feel Younger
Learn from the mice! The anti-aging process is a systemic effect: You have to exercise regularly to get the benefits, not just on weekends. I would recommend at least 30 minutes, four to five times a week. Take your time and work up to it if you are out of shape.
Here are four fun ideas:
Try Tai Chi
This ancient Chinese martial art dates back to 12th century China and was used for defense training and promoting vitality. The slow, graceful movements of tai chi incorporate deep breathing and meditation, making it a safe low-impact exercise that is appropriate for almost any age. Recent studies have found that tai chi increases energy, boosts immunity, lowers blood pressure and improves cognitive function.
This dynamic, lively workout can help you develop core strength, increase balance, tone your entire body and lift your spirits. Dance around to your favorite tunes at home or join a class and learn some new moves.
Our bodies were created for movement, not for sitting behind a desk all day! This gentle, but effective physical activity will benefit your heart, help improve your digestion, boost your energy and increase your metabolism.
Breath work is one of the main components of yoga practice, and it not only unifies breath and body, it also alleviates stress and fosters inner tranquility. Yoga also incorporates various body positions and postures that help increase strength, muscle tone, flexibility and mitigate chronic pain and arthritis. There are so many yoga styles to choose from—experiment to find the one that best suits you.