For most of us, the real secret of slowing down the aging process won’t be found in the hands of a plastic surgeon. And thankfully, it doesn’t mean you need to have money to splurge on having your skin, face and other body parts altered to look younger than your age.
In fact, there is a relatively inexpensive way to slow down the aging process. All it takes is a pair of good shoes and a determined mind to stick to a regular exercise schedule.
That’s right…exercise! Exercise has been shown to prevent acceleration of the aging process and has so many other benefits as well.
But what is the science behind it? Let’s take a look.
The Impact of Exercise on Mitochondrial Biogenesis
The mitochondria is referred to by experts as the “power plant” of the cells. It plays a crucial role in generating energy to be used for many metabolic functions.
In simple terms, mitochondria can be considered the “essence” or “vitality” that exists within each cell. As we age this vitality dissipates and weakens. This causes a circular reaction in which our whole body becomes less engaged and weakened. In turn, a further reduction in power results in the mitochondria and so it continues.
Exercise can break this cycle by increasing the mitochondrial mass of cells via a process known as ‘mitochondrial biogenesis’. This increases the power or vitality of the cells, instigating the process of anti aging at the cellular level.
Regular exercise influences certain processes in the body to prevent the reduction of mitochondrial mass in order to slow the aging process. This statement was based on a 2011 study published in Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism (source) which revealed that when a person exercises their body will become capable of inducing many changes in the content as well as activity of the mitochondrial enzyme.
This will then lead to an increase in the body’s cellular energy production which in turn will also lower the risk of suffering from many chronic diseases associated with aging. The best thing about it is that mitochondrial changes will not only impact a person’s fat tissues and skeletal muscles. Any positive changes in mitochondrial biogenesis can also be beneficial for many other vital organs in the body such as the brain, kidneys and liver.
Why Boosting Mitochondrial Activity Is Important
Free radicals occur as toxic byproducts of the body’s metabolism. Exposure to toxins, chemicals and pollutants also cause increased free radical damage in the body. Free radicals can wreak havoc on the tissues and cells resulting in the destruction of the person’s DNA as cellular lipids and proteins will also be damaged. When mitochondrial activity is being powered up the damage caused by free radicals can be significantly prevented.
If nothing is done to prevent damage and decay in the mitochondria, there is an increased risk of an impaired ability to use fat and carbohydrates for energy. In addition, the body is more likely to become insulin resistant and overweight or obese. Above and beyond these factors, it also contributes to accelerated aging.
The Massive Benefits of Exercise to Combat Aging
A study aimed at finding out the long term effects of exercise was conducted (source). The study proved that exercise helps a person to stay young as it lowers the levels of inflammation in the body. The researchers ensured that the study participants adhere to a prescribed level of physical activity of 150 minutes per week.
Spending 150 minutes of exercise per week can be easily broken down into 20-30 minutes of physical activities each day. The trick is to find what works for you. You may opt to go for a brisk walk, jog, cycle or swim coupled with some time spent on gardening and doing any household chores.
The most important thing is to be physically active, on a regular basis, and get those mitochondria fired up. It’s not necessary to undertake extreme forms of exercise that will inflame the body. Stick with what suits you and work it into your daily routine.