Anti-Aging Through Exercise and Healthy Living

Anti-aging is a very popular topic. There are so many gimmicks out there claiming to reduce wrinkles and cellulite. They promise that you will look and feel like you did 40 years ago and you won’t have to do anything except: eat specially formulated cookies or drink a shake, or take this fat burning and energy increasing capsule, or take a specific vitamin, or something else equally unrealistic. There is no miracle pill, and there is no substitute for exercising and eating right.

If it seems too good to be true, then it is. 40 years of neglecting and abusing your body will never be reversed in a month or 2, even with some special, clinically proven food or supplement. If something claims to be clinically proven, look at the research. If the research is not available, even temporarily, then chances are it is not what it says it is.

There is no substitute for exercise and eating right. The results with exercise and eating will not come over night. Exercise and eating right will benefit you in so many ways. It will help you feel better and reduce pain. It will allow you to be more active and actually increase your energy levels. Exercise will allow you to maintain strength and range of motion. As you age you lose muscle mass and become weaker if you don’t do anything about it. You will also lose range of motion as you age as muscles get tighter and tighter and make movement harder and harder. Exercise and eating right is the only miracle pill we have.

Healthy living and lifestyle choices (exercising and eating right) will also make you less likely to get ill and keep you feeling better. As we age the end of our chromosomes (the telomeres) become shorter. The shorter the telomere length, the more likely we are to age faster and become ill. Healthy living and lifestyle choices have been proven to lengthen telomeres in pilot studies.

Exercise, and moving your body in general, has been proven to decrease your risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, depression and some forms of cancer. Studies show that those who exercise live longer than those who do not.

Exercise is the best way to prevent weight gain, and is the best way to lose weight once you gain it. As you age you need less calories then you did when you were younger. If you only eat the same way that you did when you were younger, then you will gain weight. Exercise is the best way to burn off those excess calories, and it gives you some leeway to eat more food as you age.

The Mediterranean Diet has been proven to increase life expectancy. This diet is more of a style that focuses on eating fish, fresh fruits and vegetables, olive oil, and whole grains.

People from Okinawa were some of the longest lived people on earth, until the introduction of the western diet. Now their life spans are decreasing since eating like we do in the west. Prior to the introduction of the western diet, Okinawans would eat a diet high in yellow and green vegetables, fish  and fewer calories. Some profess the benefits of eating 80% of the food on their plates, and never fully finishing a meal.

Quitting smoking is another way to increase your lifespan. Quitting smoking is the best thing you can do for your overall health. Studies show that if you quit smoking at age 30, it will add 10 years to your lifespan. Smoking drastically increases free radical production in your body and causes you to age prematurely.

Drinking alcohol is one of those things that if done in moderation can be healthful, but if done too much can be very detrimental to your health. For men it is recommended to have no more than 1 or 2 drinks a day. For women it is recommended having no more than 1 drink a day.

Red wine is one of the most healthy forms of alcohol. It has many healthy properties. It has resveratol, anti-oxidants and other healthy properties that fight free radicals and can slow down the aging process and can decrease inflammation and promote heart health.

Red wine can increase anxiety and depression in people prone to these issues. This is because some people can be allergic to the sulfates, tannins and other preservatives in the wine. If you are prone to anxiety or depression then red wine might promote these issues.

Getting an adequate amount of sleep is also something that can either positively or negatively effect your health and how you age. If you get less than 6 hours of sleep a day on a consistent basis it can increase stress to your body and cause you to age prematurely by increasing overall inflammation. Sleeping 6 to 8 hours a day will decrease stress and the effects of stress on your body. Researchers think that regular sleep might help to keep stress hormones down and regulated.

Stress is a major factor that will affect health and aging. Stress will cause the release of a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol is commonly known as the stress hormone. While cortisol can be inflammatory, it also serves many positive roles in the body. It is needed for proper glucose metabolism, regulation of blood pressure, insulin release for blood sugar maintenance, immune function, and inflammatory response.

Cortisol is secreted in higher levels during the body’s fight or flight response to stress. During periods of chronic stress, which is very common in our fast paced society, cortisol is released in higher and more prolonged levels throughout the body. Prolonged exposure to cortisol will cause impaired cognitive function, suppressed thyroid function, decreased bone density, decreased muscle mass, higher blood pressure, lowered immunity and inflammatory responses in the body, slower wound healing, increased chance of heart attack, stroke, and higher levels of the bad cholesterol (LDL) and lower levels of the good cholesterol (HDL).

Chronic stress will not only increase levels of cortisol in your body, it will increase levels of inflammation throughout the body. There is an epidemic of chronic, low grade inflammation in our society. Many people, due to stress and lifestyle choices, have low grade inflammation present throughout their bodies at most times. This chronic, low grade inflammation will not create an issue, but it will exacerbate many issues throughout the body. It will further irritate tight and inflamed muscles and make them more susceptible to being pulled and sprained. Adding inflammation to the body is like throwing fuel on a fire. It will not create a problem, but it will make a problem worse.

I mentioned how free radical formation contributes to premature aging. A leading theory on aging is free radical based. This means that the more free radicals present in the body, the faster the body will break down and age. This is because free radicals are negatively charged particles that attach themselves to other molecules throughout the body. This disrupts the processes that those molecules are involved in. This can include any process such as energy production and consumption, muscle formation, digestion, and any other process going on in the body.

Anti-oxidants are positively charged molecules that attach themselves to free radicals and quench or destroy them. So the more anti-oxidants you take in, the slower you will age and the better you will feel as you age. You can get anti-oxidants in multi-vitamins (especially B-complex), and fresh fruits and vegetables. This is why it is so important to eat healthy and take multi-vitamins.

Multi-vitamins are not meant to take the place of exercise or eating right. Multi-vitamins are meant to supplement your health. You should take them for extra healthy benefits. If you are not exercising or eating right, multi-vitamins alone will not do much. But they will enhance a healthy lifestyle and contribute to feeling better, having less pain, and aging more gracefully.

Slowing down the aging process through healthy lifestyle choices, eating right and exercising, rather than trying to look younger through pills and surgery, is the Pain Free Way.

Here is the link to a slide show that talks about a few other ways to slow down the aging process.




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