Here’s why exercise makes you younger
Is exercise the fountain of youth? Research shows that exercise’s powerful impact on our physical and mental health can in fact slow down the aging process. Here’s how exercise makes you younger, one cell at a time.
Increases energy efficiency
Can running make you younger? One study suggests it might. A University of Colorado study found that older adults who regularly participate in highly aerobic activities (running in particular) have a lower metabolic cost of walking than sedentary adults.
What does that mean? As we age, if we are active, we maintain our ‘horsepower,’ or fuel economy. This suggests that those who exercise can maintain a better quality of life because of their ability to move around easily.
Makes our skin younger
By increasing blood flow, sending more oxygen and eliminating waste, exercise keeps skin cells healthy and vital.
In one study, researchers asked sedentary volunteers to work out for 30-45 minutes, twice a week, at 65 percent of their maximum heart rate. After just 12 weeks, tests on their non-exposed skin, which had shown normal signs of aging before the study started, resembled those of a 30- to 40- year old.
How? By increasing blood flow, exercise helps nourish skin cells and keep them healthy and vital by sending more oxygen to them and carrying away waste. Additionally, when we sweat, our pores open and release the build up inside of them. Sweat purges the body of toxins that would otherwise clog up pores and cause blemishes.
Due to muscle loss and bone density changes as you age, your ability to keep a healthy posture starts to decline.
By strength training either by using resistance bands, weights or aerobic exercise, such as swimming, you can rebuild muscle and prevent bone loss.
Taking care of your core and your spine has the added benefit of keeping your body and joints strong, and your taller posture will shave years off of your appearance.
Although any type of exercise, including both aerobic and anaerobic exercise, can improve our flexibility, yoga and pilates in particular are highly effective at increasing flexibility as we age.
Don’t be one of the many people who avoid yoga because they are inflexible. That is the perfect reason to try it! By increasing your flexibility, you can reduce the risk of injuries – such as hip injuries – as you age, increasing your chances of living a longer, healthier life.
Boosts mental capacity
Studies show that regular exercise boosts the size of our hippocampus, the area of the brain that’s responsible for learning and memory.
Numerous studies show that regular aerobic exercise boosts the size of the hippocampus, the area of the brain that’s responsible for memory and learning. Those who exercise may literally have the brain of a younger person, making it easy for them to continue learning and maintain sharp mental health for years longer than those who are sedentary and do not get regular, aerobic movement on a daily basis.
Additionally, all types of exercise promote the health and survival of brain cells as well as the growth of new blood vessels in the brain.
Keeps our metabolism high
As we age, our metabolism naturally slows down. As the pounds creep up, we put our bodies at higher risk for diabetes, heart disease and other serious health issues.
The more muscle mass we have, the quicker our bodies burn calories. So by exercising and keeping your body strong, we are better able to maintain a healthy weight and reduce our chances of sickness and disease.
Slows cell aging
Exercise doesn’t just make you look younger. Exercise makes you younger. How? By turning off the aging process in your chromosomes. In order to stay young, you have to keep your cells young. Researchers have found that exercise can keep DNA healthy and young.
Telomeres, the caps at the end of our chromosomes that are responsible for aging, get shorter as we get older. Recent studies have shown a link between regular exercise and lengthening of the telemores, which suggests that exercise may literally be able to slow our clocks down and help us live longer.
If exercise is the fountain of youth, stress is its antidote. Experts say that one of the keys to living a long, happy, healthy life is the ability to reduce stress and anxiety and move forward after stressful life events.
A trait geriatricians call “adaptive competence” describes our ability to bounce back after something stressful happens. Without it, research shows that a high stress level can have an enormous impact on our longevity, shedding up to 33 years off of our lives. Yikes!
Exercise reduces stress, making it more likely that we will live longer – and happier.
Lowers cancer risk
Some studies suggest that regular, moderate exercise may reduce the risk of some cancers. One study showed that regular physical activity can reduce the risk for colon cancer in men by about 24 percent. Other studies show that regular exercise may reduce the risk of lung cancer by up to 20 percent. Plus, once diagnosed, exercise may help keep cancer from spreading.
Prevent aging: Drink more water!
Did you know that drinking more water can also make you feel and look younger? By nourishing and hydrating your skin from the inside out, drinking more water can reduce wrinkles and increase the function and vitality of all of your organs.
Ready to increase your hydration?
- Get more science-backed reasons to rehydrate by reading our free, comprehensive guide: How to Rehydrate.
- Then jumpstart your fitness hydration by stocking up on our stainless steel, BPA-free water bottles.