If you follow me on Facebook, I’ve shown you examples over the months of women in the 50s, 60s, .. heck nearly their 90s- who have started lifting weights in their later years. One thing these women have in common? None of them look their age.
Now we might argue that they are blessed with special genes that keep them looking younger, but there is some scientific evidence that their participation in strength training has a lot to do with their younger appearance. And it’s NOT just appearance. These women report having the energy of people as much as half their age.
I’ve said before that lifting is a fountain of youth. Now the science is proving me right and explaining how this anti-aging happens.
Scientists believe that this can be explained by examining telomeres (the yellow dots on the picture at the left). These are “caps” that seal the end of our DNA chains protecting the DNA from damage. As each cell divides and reproduces these caps can wear,fray and break creating shorter telomeres. Eventually these telomeres disappear completely, leading to DNA damage. The researchers believe that this results in the aging process.
The researchers who won the Nobel Prize in Medicine last year, did so by studying and defining the actions of telomeres with exercise. They discovered that those individuals who exercised vigorously 3 hours or more a week had longer telomeres than those who didn’t. This data was adjusted for all other common variables such as smoking, weight, socio-economic conditions, age. Even more impressive: individuals who began a strength training program had their telomeres lengthen after beginning their exercise program and those who trained the most vigorously had telomere lengths equal to sedentary individuals 10 years younger.
This is proof that on a cellular level at least exercise truly is the fountain of youth.
Is this enough to convince individuals to get up off the couch and start walking, playing tennis, or lifting? Somehow I doubt it. We can’t see our DNA – reading about it is hardly motivation to start working out. For me, however, it re-enforces the idea that working hard will help me to live a healthy life longer. When I hit a point where I want to quit – this kind of information will let me push through.
How about you? Could a scientific report ever motivate you to work harder? Go further? Or simply get off the couch?