We already know that exercise has a bounty of benefits.  Being active builds strength and endurance, enhances flexibility, lowers blood pressure, helps ward of many diseases, not to mention calorie-burning to help us maintain a healthy weight.  

There's an exciting NEW realization, however, that can add even more motivation to get you moving - ANTI-AGING!  Exercise has an anti-aging effect at the cellular level making you look and feel younger inside and out!

How can this be true?  New research has found that the right combination of exercise prevents the shortening of telomeres.  Telomeres are strands of DVA at the ends of each of your chromosomes that keep them in tact, often described like plastic caps that hold the ends of shoelaces.  Over our lives, cells divide and replicate and telomeres shorten.  When they become too short, cells die.

Lifestyle can either speed up or slow down the telomere-shortening process.  Recent studies have demonstrated that the right combination of exercise could help you turn the clock back by almost a decade!

Pierre Gaudet, President and co-founders of ExerSciz, the program we're proudly using in our 50-50-50 Challenge.  Pierre has helped us to filter through some of the studies and information to pull out the practical points we should include with our activity to benefit on the anti-aging front.  

TIME is critically important.
Inactivity increases risk of all major diseases, but it now also influences aging.  Over a 10-yr study of twins, the Leukocyte Telomere Length (LTL) of the group that did 100 minutes of activity per week was around 5-6 years younger.  The LTL of the group that did 200 minutes per week were up to 10 years younger on average.  Bottom line - enough activity a week can turn back time and initial studies show that more is better!

INTENSITY can be confusing
Some recommendations we're seeing connected with these telomere studies of mice and twins include high intensity interval training.  Although this type of training has become a trend as a time-efficient and effective workout, there are a few cautions to keep things in perspective.  

Logging enough time can be tough.  High intensity training ideally tops out around 20 minutes.  By its very nature, that level of intensity is difficult to sustain for long periods of time.  Therefore focusing on this kind of training can make it difficult to reach the target times.

Motivation and consistency can be a challenge with high intensity as well.  For most people, it's tough to do on your own so may require the time and expense of hiring a trainer.  It can also be incredibly uncomfortable, so if you don't find that fun it's tough to stay consistent and, again, log that total time so critically important to lengthening telomeres!

Pierre's summary points from the studies:

  • do something you like and achieving 100-200 minutes a week will be achievable and pleasant!
  • walking or any other cardio exercise were found to be beneficial in the studies
  • most people quit a program if it is 10% more intense than what they are comfortable with
  • as we age, intensity workouts can be risky for injury... and proper progression is important
  • without a trainer, high intensity can be dangerous and 95% of people will never use a trainer
  • so not a great option for the masses over 50
  • strength and flexibility help diminish the aches and discomfort that comes with aging and stops you from being active

Check out www.libbynorris.com <http://www.libbynorris.com> for Pierre's full review and comments on telomeres, anti-aging and exercise where we get into more details.

So what SHOULD you include with exercise to benefit on the anti-aging front?

1. Find activities you enjoy
Don't get caught up trying to find "the best" exercise, find something you ENJOY.  It will be easier to log that total time so critically connected with lengthening telomeres and become part of your lifestyle you enjoy versus a burden to bear!

2. Comfortable but challenging
This applies for cardiovascular and strength training.  Gone are the days of "no pain, no gain".  If you find it fun to push to that point of exhaustion, go for it, but it's not essential for health or anti-aging benefits.  For most, it is tough to reach that level, stick with it, enjoy or avoid injury.  

Perceived exertion is a long-term standard that's effective and gaining more ground again as a way of measuring intensity.  It's simple modified rating scale from 1-10 with 10 being exhaustion.  It can be used with any activity, grows with you and ends up accommodating for so many of the variables that influence intensity that your trainer or heart rate monitor may not catch.

3. Balance
Your total activity in a week does require a balance of cardio, resistance and flexibility but start with what you enjoy and then begin to carve out an ideal combination as you progress.  Once you reach that ideal total time of 200 minutes plus, then start to analyze your program to ensure you're including all components.  Ideally, you do want to have 2-4 workouts where you challenge all of your major muscle groups for approximately 20-30 minutes each session.  Very often, however, recreational activities like biking, skiing and yes even gardening will include a variety of muscle groups.  

From there, think "reverse posture" to improve balance.  Whatever you do most during your activities or work day, do the opposite to stretch out or balance with other exercises.  For example:

  • if you sit all day and lean forward - stand, move and lean back to stretch out
  • if you're a runner - add more upper body strength and lots of stretching around hip and knee joints
  • if you garden - add more cardio, functional training with hinges and squats and stretches that have you leaning back and opening up the chest

This new research and link with exercise and telomeres helps us prove what we've known all along - exercise IS the ultimate anti-aging tool!  It doesn't require surgery, a plethora of pills and can be done in the comfort of your own home doing activities you enjoy!  

Looking to get out of the February blahs and in shape for spring!  We've put a 3-month package together for our 50-50-50 Challenge.  We've set up an amazing discount for our Canada AM viewers to access our online training site.  You can start ANY time and join our journey!

If you have any questions on how and where to get started with your workouts, contact Libby at www.libbynorris.com.  We love your feedback, questions and suggestions for segments.