If you’re anything like us, it can sometimes be hard to switch off the TV or put down your cell phone and go exercise. However, shocking evidence from a new study might just change your entire approach to exercise. Because regularly doing some tough workouts could, quite literally, change your life forever.
Although many of us are often not in the mood to get off the sofa and do it, we all know that regular exercise is good for us. In fact, the benefits of working up a sweat a few times a week are multiple. Indeed, all the scientific evidence points to exercise being a key component of developing a healthier and, perhaps, happier life.
Of course, one of the main benefits of regular exercise is that it reduces the chance of developing all sorts of hideous illnesses. Indeed, the risk of suffering strokes, type 2 diabetes and heart disease can be lowered by as much as half through regular exercise.
Additionally, getting our heart pumping also boosts our mood, mental health and general wellbeing. Moreover, physical activity helps to reduce depression and stress through the release of endorphins, or “feel-good” chemicals, in our bodies.
Add into the mix the obvious benefit of a fitter, leaner torso and improved body image, and it’s easy to see why regular exercise should be an essential part of your weekly routine. What’s more, scrolling through Instagram these days, you’ll probably see that’s the case for an increasing proportion of the population.
The image-based app is filled with users showing off their ripped abs and trainers giving workout tips. Indeed, a global consumer survey from 2013 showed that millennials do more gym-type workouts than previous generations. Furthermore, new evidence has now come to light that gives us all yet another reason to hit the gym. In fact, it will astound you.
Specifically, the evidence relates to a 2017 study from Brigham Young University that focused on high-intensity workouts. So, we’re not talking about just the occasional run on the treadmill, dip in the pool or quick blast on the Eliptical. High-intensity workouts require much greater commitment.
Examples of high-intensity exercise given in the study include jogging for between half an hour to 40 minutes. However, importantly, high-intensity also means high frequency: jogging for this amount of time at least five days a week. Moreover, the benefits of such a routine could quite literally be life-changing.
Indeed, the study found that people carrying out high-intensity workouts could slow down their ageing process by almost an entire decade. That’s right, nearly ten whole years! However, how exactly is this possible?
Apparently, it’s all to do with our bodies’ cells and what’s going on inside them. It’s common knowledge that unhealthy behaviors such as smoking can damage cells. As we age, these cells also become ravaged by the passage of time. Now, researchers have showed that those who exercise intensely can greatly reduce the speed of this cell deterioration.
Within every human cell’s center, or nucleus, lie chromosomes. These thread-like materials are made up of DNA. Furthermore, at the end of every chromosome lie protein particles known as telomeres.
These telomeres become shorter each time cell replication occurs. Moreover, every time these little protein particles shrink in size, the more damaged the cell becomes. With time, these damaged cells age us and are reflected in bodily changes such as graying hair and wrinkles.
The Brigham Young University study focused on almost 6,000 adults. It examined the telomere lengths within different groups of the study population. Researchers discovered that the shortest telomeres belonged to people with the most sedentary lifestyles.
Therefore, this meant these people aged the fastest. Conversely, the youngest and longest telomeres belonged to the groups that carried out high-intensity exercise on a regular basis. In fact, the study showed that their cells appeared up to nine years younger than the person’s true age suggested.
However, there was a difference between the sexes. For women to benefit from slowing cell age, they would need to jog for around half an hour, five times every week. In contrast, men had to do that little bit more to gain the benefit: 40 minutes.
Interestingly, and also slightly annoyingly, the study showed that only people doing high-intensity exercise showed signs of cellular age reduction. The researchers found no major difference in telomere length when comparing people whose level of exercise was low to moderate with those who did none at all.
“We know that regular physical activity helps to reduce mortality and prolong life,” exercise science professor Larry Tucker told the Daily Mail in May 2017. “And now we know part of that advantage may be due to the preservation of telomeres.”
“Just because you’re 40, doesn’t mean you’re 40 years old biologically,” he continued. “We all know people who seem younger than their actual age. The more physically active we are, the less biological aging takes place in our bodies.”
Talking to Science Daily in May 2017, Tucker stressed that the exercise has to be high-intensity. “If you want to see a real difference in slowing your biological aging, it appears that a little exercise won’t cut it,” he said. “You have to work out regularly at high levels.”
So, it appears that if you want to stay looking young, you need to stop reaching for those anti-wrinkle creams and start picking up your running shoes instead. Indeed, since it seems we can now add age reduction to the list of benefits of regular intense exercise, we’ve all got another reason to get off the sofa!