As you age, mitochondrial biogenesis (the process by which new mitochondria are formed in your cells) declines. As the energy factories of your cells, when your mitochondrial mass declines, or begin to develop mutations, you begin to exhibit signs and symptoms of advancing age …
Research shows, however, that exercise helps to boost mitochondrial biogenesis and mitochondrial protein quality, helping to minimize aging’s impacts on your skeletal muscle[i] and prevent age-associated cognitive decline,[ii] for starters.
Exercise also helps you to preserve your strength and lean muscle mass, lower your risk of chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer, and lower your risk of falls and functional declines as you get older. This means you’ll stay younger longer, both in body and in spirit.
What are the 6 Best Anti-Aging Exercises?
If you want to slow down the hands of time, make sure the following exercises are on your regular rotation:
6. Bodyweight Exercises
Push-ups, chin-ups, lunges, squats, jump squats, mountain climbers, and even jumping jacks are examples of exercises that use only your own body weight as ‘equipment.’ All of these are also recommended by the American Council on Exercise as anti-aging exercises for people in their 40s and 50s.[iii]
5. Strength Training
Grab some free weights, use an exercise machine or learn body-weight exercises (like squats, push-ups and pull-ups). This, of course, builds muscle and prevents the loss of muscle mass that occurs with age, but also, strength training has been shown to reverse aging in muscle tissue and change the expression of your genes to a more youthful level. Researchers explained this extraordinary finding:[iv]
“Prior to the exercise training, the transcriptome profile showed a dramatic enrichment of genes associated with mitochondrial function with age. However, following exercise training the transcriptional signature of aging was markedly reversed back to that of younger levels for most genes that were affected by both age and exercise.
We conclude that healthy older adults show evidence of mitochondrial impairment and muscle weakness, but that this can be partially reversed at the phenotypic level, and substantially reversed at the transcriptome level, following six months of resistance exercise training.”
4. Any Choreographed Exercise Class
Exercises that involve memorizing choreography (like Zumba or virtually any group aerobics class) work your body and your brain. As your physical body benefits from the activity, your brain will benefit from the extra challenge of quick direction changes, reactions and memorization.[v] Activities including tennis and racquetball (that require quick movements) and step, kickboxing and dance classes are all ideal for anti-aging benefits.
One additional brain-boosting tip? Be sure to do exercises that involve crossing your legs or arms over the mid-line of your body. According to physical therapist and fitness expert Maureen Hagan on MSN:[vi]
“The connection between the right and left hemispheres of your brain deteriorates as you age, which causes “brain farts” (technical name: brain delays) as the hemispheres have trouble communicating with one another, Hagan explains. Crossing limbs forces the two sides of your brain to talk to one another, strengthening the connection between hemispheres.”
3. Balance Training
Balance training helps to increase lower body strength and balance, reducing your risk of falls. This is especially important as you get older, as falls are a leading cause of disability among the elderly. Balance training can also help to improve your posture, prevent injury and boost your athletic performance, making it important to start at all ages.
Try performing exercises on a BOSU ball , stability ball or wobble board, for starters. Yoga is also an excellent form of balance training.
2. Flexibility Training
Flexibility training, or stretching, can help you to increase your range of motion, making it easier to perform everyday activities and avoid increasing stiffness as you age. Staying flexible can help you prevent injuries and maintain your independence even when you’re older.
Aim for flexibility training at least two times a week, or try to incorporate some daily stretches into your routine. Yoga and Pilates can also help to improve your flexibility.
1. High-Intensity Interval Exercises
High-intensity interval training (HIIT), which combines short bursts of very high-intensity activity with periods of rest, is ideal for burning calories, faster. Because the intensity of the exercise is so vigorous, even if for a very short period, it allows you to burn more calories than you would by exercising moderately for a longer period.
Even more importantly, however, there are only a few ways to boost your body’s natural production of human growth hormone (HGH), and high-intensity exercise is one. Research shows that at least 10 minutes of high-intensity exercise, performed consistently, can increase growth hormone levels in men.[vii] Writing in Sports Medicine, researchers further found:[viii]
“Aging is often associated with a progressive decrease in the volume and, especially, the intensity of exercise. A growing body of evidence suggests that higher intensity exercise is effective in eliciting beneficial health, well-being and training outcomes.
In a great many cases, the impact of some of the deleterious effects of aging could be reduced if exercise focused on promoting the EIGR [exercise-induced growth hormone response].”
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