Growing up ain’t easy. Whether you are a bright eyed, bushy tailed grad starting out on your first job or if you’re well established in your career or doing the career–and-children juggling act or even if you’re beginning to prepare for retirement – all stages of life have their curve balls and surprises. However, two things are for certain. The first is that ageing is inevitable. The second is that life moves by pretty fast. Nothing stays the same for long and sometimes it can feel hard to keep up. And the same goes for health and fitness too… How do you adapt? How do you keep up the awesome even as you age?
How to Beat the Clock
- Top up on the sunshine vitamin (a.k.a vit D). A recent King’s College London study of more than 2,000 women between the ages of 18 and 89 found those with higher vitamin D levels showed fewer ageing-related changes in their DNA. After adjusting the results for the age of study participants, findings showed that women with higher levels of vitamin D were more likely to have longer telomeres in these cells, and vice versa. Another study looking at the vitamin D and inflammation (another promoter of ageing) found that those with higher vitamin D levels had lower levels if inflammation. Vitamin D is known to be a potent inhibitor of your body’s inflammatory response which means it protects your body from the deterioration of aging.
- Dabble with intermittent fasting. There is an increasing host of research showing that intermittent fasting may be in fact be an effective strategy for slowing the ageing process. Animal research has shown calorie restriction of up to 40 percent fewer calories than normal to have an impressive positive effect on disease, markers of aging and life span. The results from a pilot study in humans (Comprehensive Assessment of Long-term Effects of Reducing Intake of Energy (CALERIE)) also showed that overweight adults who cut their calorie consumption by 20 to 30 percent lowered their fasting insulin levels and core body temperature. Both of these changes gave been linked to increased longevity in animal models. The lower calorie intake also reduced their risk for major causes of mortality such as heart disease and diabetes.
- Control and reduce chronic stress. Worrying does give you wrinkles and there is research to prove it! The reason for this is that when you are stressed, your body has a fight or flight reaction that releases stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. The body is very good at handling short-term acute stresses; however, the problem with our go-go-go 21st century lives is that our bodies are pumping out stress hormones almost constantly and this is not good news. A recent study looking into the impact of work-related stress and telomere length found that individuals the reported the most job stress had the shortest telomeres. Shortening of telomeres = accelerated biological age.
- Move more. From preventing diabetes, boosting mood and toning up those thighs, here is yet another reason to exercise regularly. A recent study showed that those who did some type of exercise on a regular basis had longer telomeres than the people who didn’t exercise at all (on average 75% longer than their sedentary counterparts). The correlation between telomere length and exercise activity seemed to be strongest among those in middle age also suggesting that it’s never too late to start a fitness program! Not only that, but the study suggested that both duration of exercise and intensity had an impact on telomeres length. Now before you freak out – this doesn’t mean that you need to become an ultra-endurance nut. However, what it does suggest is that engaging in intense exercise like High-Intensity-Interval-Training (HIIT) a couple times a week is the most effective all natural approach to keeping your telomeres long and happy!