Dear Dr Carter, You mention in several blogs that exercising and following a good diet will make me younger. Is this really true? How does my body get younger? Thanks, JR
Thanks for your great question. I’m happy to tell you that I (and most modern physician scientists) have absolutely no doubt that exercise and prudent diet delays aging. We can’t change your birth certificate, so you cannot cheat your actual age. But you absolutely can live in a younger, healthier, happier body. I’ll give you the top-line here; follow the links for more detail in my other articles. I’ll show you the science, but as importantly, I can tell you from personal experience that I am and feel younger today than I was 5 years ago!
Let me start by saying that aging is not a disease. It’s not something I (or you) should fear. What we should definitely worry about is premature disease (or death), mental decline, and loss of mobility. We will all age. I want to age gracefully. To me this means I retain my health, mental function, mobility, happiness and ability to contribute.
A large number of studies have evaluated the impact of cardio-respiratory fitness (CRF) on the prevalence of heart disease and the risk of death. Taking all these studies together we know that people with high (or even intermediate) levels of CRF reduce their risk of death by a whopping 60 to 70%, and their risk of heart disease and stroke by a very significant 40 to 50%! The fantastic news is that you don’t have to become an Olympic athlete to get this benefit. Intermediate fitness is as good as super-fitness in keeping you young!
We also know that regular exercise improves flexibility and suppleness. This, in turn, has significant benefit in mobility. As we age, many of us fear immobility as much as we fear disease. Studies measuring mobility objectively report up to 50% improvements in those that exercise regularly.
We also worry about mental degeneration associated with age. Again, the news is good, and studies have definitively shown that regular exercise is protective. We know that cognitive function declines more slowly in people that exercise regularly. The benefit starts early. In a study that examined cognitive function in relation to fitness status 25 years earlier, there is conclusive evidence that people who exercise regularly enjoy better cognitive function when their peers start aging.
Why does this happen? Exercise triggers the release of powerful chemicals that work against the natural decay our bodies experience with age. Regular exercise helps us keep body fat down too, and fat is a breeding ground for bad chemicals that accelerate decay and aging. In addition, the body also release chemicals that enhance mood in response to exercise. In particular, endorphins and serotonin (the “feel-good” hormone in the brain) are both increased with exercise. So not only do I substantially improve my health and mobility, but I also elevate my mood so I feel younger too. That is BodyWHealth!
All in all, an irresistible argument to exercise regularly and eat well. Stay close to the BodyWHealth community and we will help you. Sign up for free email updates. This will be the best investment you will ever make
If you have a question, please submit it via the connect tab. I try to answer all questions, either by direct email response, or by posting for all to see. I will not publish your name in public responses. Remember, there is no stupid question!!
(Photo credit: Shutterstock)