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Age-Less Exercise



If there is an anti-aging pill, it has to be exercise-age-less exercise. Proper exercise has been shown to slow aging through reduced cholesterol, high blood pressure, stress levels, insulin levels and osteoporosis risk. Exercise helps maintain vital hormones, increases oxygen utilization and increases self esteem. But exercise is not magic. It’s work. Almost everything we do on a daily basis requires muscle strength and the ability to take in and utilize oxygen.

Lung performance usually reaches its maximum around 16 years of age and then declines by about one per cent a year thereafter; by the time we reach 60, we can have two thirds to one half of the capacity we once had. Loss of vital lung capacity can result in much more than the need for a few extra breaths. It can lead to serious heart conditions and a greater susceptibility to pneumonia and other kinds of respiratory infections.

What I am referring to is a "biomarker" of aging. It means there is a loss of lean body mass, muscular strength, vital capacity, certain hormones, the ability to control blood sugar, cognition and an increase in body fat, insulin levels and stress hormones. Age-less exercise slows and even reverses this process.

It’s a concept born out of the realization that so-called age-related conditions are actually due to a sedentary lifestyle. I developed the method after researching the most effective exercise strategies for slowing down biological aging, but please note; all types of physical activity bring about health rewards, provided they are executed properly.

Gain Muscle and Lose Fat

If you asked most people the best exercise for long term fat-loss, their reply would be, "Aerobics, of course!" But studies show that too much cardio in the absence of resistance training can be detrimental to long-term fat-loss.

In order to stop the body from changing from firm young Macintosh apples, to soft mushy ones, we first have to engage in a weight-training routine that is changed monthly in order to keep your body from adapting to the exercises. Weight-training is the only scientific way to increase the lean muscle and strength that you lose through aging.

Muscle is the metabolic engine of the body. The more muscle you carry on your frame, the higher your basal metabolic rate (BMR), which refers to your ability to utilize calories and burn fat. Fat gained with age is nothing but dead weight. Every kilogram (2.2 pounds) added to the body only burns an extra five calories a day. In contrast, one kilogram of active muscle burns in excess of 20 calories a day! But how much is too much?

According to research from a study of 16,936 Harvard graduates aged 35 to 74 over a 16-year period, 2,000 calories of exercise-related expenditure seems to be the magic number. (And it doesn’t matter what type of exercise you perform.) That’s just under 300 calories a day if you exercise seven days a week. Taking a good brisk walk for about 45 minutes a day would more than meet these requirements. The brisk walking would increase your vital capacity, lower excess blood glucose and lower excess insulin. Overdoing it can negate the benefits.

As you increase the exercise intensity and duration, you also increase oxidative stress on the body. The increased production of those damaging molecules–called free radicals–cancels out the age-less exercise benefits. Another reason not to spend hours upon hours in the gym is because you will end up producing too much physiological stress on the body. The net result is an increase in stress hormone levels such as cortisol. Moderation is your best prescription.

What About Weight Training?

Walking does wonders for your vital capacity, but it won’t reverse the loss of lean body mass-the number one biomarker of aging. In order to rebuild the old muscle tissue you must exercise with sufficient intensity so that the muscles cannot receive enough oxygen transfer. As the muscles strain to work in this environment, they end up producing a byproduct of glucose metabolism called lactic acid. It’s through this anaerobic environment that two of the most powerful hormones in the body are produced: growth hormone and testosterone.

Your body adapts to certain exercises quickly, so if you do the same exercises in the same order every time you train, progress will come to an end: research has proven that the body begins to adapt to the same routine in as little as six sessions. In age-less exercise, you never let your body become stale. You keep it guessing.

Reps and Sets

There is no set repetition range when it comes to effective weight training. Basically your muscles come in two flavors:

  1. Type IIa (best suited for endurance) refers to slow twitch muscle fibres with a high oxidative potential.

  2. Type IIb (best suited for size and strength) refers to fast twitch muscle fibers with a lower oxidative potential.

These different muscle fibres require different repetition (rep) sequences to attain results. One (type IIa) requires high repetitions for maximum effect and the other (type IIb), requires low to medium repetitions for best results. You should perform your exercises, varying the rep sequences from six to 15 in the following sequence: 1st set: 15 reps. 2nd set: 10 reps. 3rd set: six to eight reps.



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Matthew Kadey, MSc, RDMatthew Kadey, MSc, RD