In Part One of this series on anti-aging we delved into nutrition and its effects on anti-aging. Plus, I reviewed how I am sharing my anti-aging practices focusing on four big life areas: nutrition, physical conditioning, the quality of your sleep and your emotional reserves.

In this article, we will be looking at the area of physical conditioning (exercise) and anti-aging. Almost everyone knows that exercise is good for your heart and lungs but you may not realize just how profoundly regular exercise can positively affect your mood, your stress levels and perhaps most importantly, can significantly lower inflammation in your body as you age.

In Part Two of this series you learned inflammation is the driver behind many of the chronic diseases that too often come with getting older, so knowing that exercise can be very effective in combating inflammation provides you with a powerful motivator for getting and staying active. A recent study in the well respected medical journal Circulation looked at the association between regular exercise and the results of blood tests for inflammation in a group of 4289 men and women over ten years. Study participants who were regularly physically active had strikingly lower levels of inflammation in their bodies.

Since exercise is a powerful tool in your anti-aging tool chest, you likely have questions as to what kind of exercise and how much. You may even be thinking this means long hours sweating your way through a tough cardio routine on a treadmill, spin bike or training to run half-marathons. Not necessarily. Another large research project, the Harvard Health Professionals study, found it’s not how long you exercise or your endurance but it’s how intense your workout is.

running

And yet another study from Quebec’s Laval University compared two groups, a ‘long duration’ group which cycled up to 45 minutes without stopping and a ‘short duration’ group which cycled in short 15 to 90 second bursts with rest in between. As expected, the long duration group burned twice as many calories as the short duration group. Here’s the surprising finding: researchers expected that because the long duration group burned twice as many calories, they expected them to also burn more fat. But when the two groups’ body fat measurements were compared, the short duration group not only burned more fat, but lost a whopping nine times more fat for every calorie burned than the endurance group!

Based on these findings, try incorporating short duration bursts of intense activity into your exercise routine. If you want to know more, a helpful book which incorporates these findings is:  PACE: The 12-Minute Fitness Revolution, by Al Sears, M.D.

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) is another excellent resource and offers guidelines for the quantity and quality of exercise necessary for cardiorespiratory, musculoskeletal, and neuromotor fitness for healthy adults. (http://www.acsm.org) Whichever route you choose, any movement is better than none.

Next time, we’ll shine the spotlight on your sleep, including how much you should be getting and how to improve your sleep quality to achieve maximum anti-aging benefits. In the meantime, I’d love to hear your thoughts on exercise, as well as how you are doing in the comments below.