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High-Intensity Workouts Can Slow the Aging Process

8 minute read

Despite science fiction depicting machines and technology that can reverse aging or regenerate cells, this is not the case in real life. If you want to live as long as possible, you have to work for it.  

Most of us define age as the number of years we have been circling the sun. Our cells do not age in the same way, however, as an unhealthy lifestyle can cause them to age more quickly than normal.

| Related: The Best Exercise for Aging Muscles |

If your cells are aging faster than you are in chronological years, organs and bodily functions begin to worsen before the time they normally would. Luckily, high-intensity workouts may be your ticket to slowing down the clock.

The Secret to Longevity

A recent study found that exercise, and a high-intensity workout specifically, is the number one action we can take to slow the natural aging of our cells. Adults who took part in high-intensity workouts were able to keep their cells up to nine years younger than the age given away by their birthday cake candles.

Higher intensity exercise levels used for the study included 30- to 40-minute jogging sessions for five days a week.  

It is thought that the benefit is linked to telomeres, which are the protein tips at the end of each chromosome. Every time a cell replicates, these protein ends get shorter and shorter, and the more they shrink, the quicker we age.

Human chromosome with shining telomeres

The telomeres of over 5,000 adults were recorded and the shortest ones belonged to individuals that led a mostly sedentary lifestyle. Exercise is known to suppress inflammation and chemical imbalances, which are notorious for damaging chromosomes.

| Related: Turmeric (Curcumin) Keeps Old Age at Bay |

Those that regularly engaged in intense activity had longer, “younger” telomeres. When the activity levels of study participants were low to moderate, there was no impact noted in regard to the telomere length.

If the secret to immortality, or at least living to a ripe old age, is severe physical activity, many people are going to be upset. We often have such busy, tiring schedules that the last thing on your mind is going to be an intense workout session.

So, it really does seem that if you want to add some years to your lifespan, you need to start incorporating some high-intensity exercise into that routine of yours.

High-Intensity Workouts to Fit in Anywhere

Before you get disheartened because you have no time for a 30- or 40-minute jog every day, know that a solution has been found. There are short 15-minute workouts that you can fit in to any part of your day.  

These HIIT (high-intensity interval training) sessions have become the newest craze because they help you to get and stay fit without disrupting your chaotic schedule. Throw in the added benefit of knowing high-intensity exercise adds years to your life, and these workouts are your new best friend.

An older woman exercising with the assistance of a physical trainer

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The very definition of an HIIT workout is that you give 85 to 95% maximum effort over a short period of time. Rather than cardio or a brisk stroll for an hour, you work really hard for 15 minutes and end up sweating so much more than any walk or cardio machine would force out of you.  

The reason these workouts are good for you has more to do with your health than simply preventing your telomeres from shrinking. The calorie burn that you generate in those 15 to 20 minutes lasts for hours after you are done.  

This means you continue to burn calories even when you have returned to work or back to running errands. Some reports have estimated that the caloric "afterburn" continues up to 18 hours after your workout is over.  

The more calories you burn, the more weight you can lose and the healthier your body becomes from the inside out.

A Sample HIIT Workout to Follow

Each burst of intensity is followed by a short rest period. As you get in better shape and work to test yourself, you will decrease the amount of rest time between intense exercises.

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The workout below is perfect for those getting started and those looking to get in shape with limited time during their day. Of course, before beginning any new strenuous exercise, the wisest move is to consult your physician for guidance.

A senior man works out with a punch bag

In the beginning, perform each exercise for approximately 45 seconds and take a 15-second break between each of them. Ideally, you would want to repeat this program three times a week, but you can do more or less depending on your overall fitness level.

♦ Start with a 5-minute warm up, jogging in place.

♦ 45 seconds of high knees followed by 15 seconds of rest

♦ 30 seconds of lunges followed by 15 seconds of rest

♦ 45 seconds of burpees followed by 20 seconds of rest

♦ 30 seconds of jumping jacks followed by 20 seconds of rest

♦ 45 seconds of front kicks followed by 15 seconds of rest

♦ 30 seconds of push-ups followed by 15 seconds of rest

♦ 45 seconds of squats followed by 20 seconds of rest

♦ Always finish up with a cooldown session, no more than five minutes is needed.

♦ Always be sure to drink plenty of water before, during and after a high-intensity workout, and be sure to stretch out your muscles before and after.

A middle aged man strength training

The Bottom Line

High-intensity workouts are a great benefit to your body in numerous ways. That said, it's important that, whatever sort of exercise routine you choose, you stick with it. If you end up making your exercise sporadic, you will only do yourself a disservice by putting in effort without gaining as much benefit from your work.

Rather than trying to just always remembering to get active, it can be really helpful to write out your schedule. Try making a calendar for yourself and crossing out the days as you go for a rewarding sense of accomplishment.

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  1. https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2017/01/24/511267616/spains-robin-hood-restaurant-charges-the-rich-and-feeds-the-poor
  2. http://www.businessinsider.com/robin-hood-restaurant-spain-2017-1
  3. https://www.bowery.org/homelessness/tips-help-homeless/
  4. http://www.newsweek.com/illegal-feed-criminalizing-homeless-america-782861