Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Staying younger longer

This week, I've been reading articles, and learning a great deal about exercise, anatomy and all things work related.  I thought I would share a couple of the most interesting tidbits with you.
The first comes from a book I read several years ago called
It's a really interesting book about how metabolism works and how to maximize it for yourself.  But one of the most interesting bits was about research that was done on longevity.  Why do we fall apart as we get older?  It happens because the cells you are making are weaker than the cells they are replacing.  But, it isn't inevitable.  We can change this process by teaching our bodies how to make better cells.  And if you make 300 billion better cells today than you did yesterday, you are in essence getting younger, right?  Consistently done, you can improve your appearance, your strength, your stamina, immunity, sex drive, memory, mood, and attitude. 

So how to accomplish this?  Apparently a team of Italian gerontologists tried to find the answer for why some people seem to be healthy and active into their 80's and beyond.  Was it just luck?  Did smoking, diet, social class, marital status or any other factors play a role?  Turns out, no matter the other factors, the one thing keeping those folks acting young was muscle mass.  "In a study of 84 men and women aged 90-106 years, muscle mass was the most consistent longevity factor.  Biochemically, that's reflected in one thing:  anabolic metabolism." (G. Ravaglia et al., " Determinants of Functional Status in Healthy Italian Nonagenarians and Centenarians:  A Comprehensive functional Assessment by the Instruments of Geriatric Practice,"  Journal of the American Geriatics society 45, no. 10 (October 1997):  1196-1202.

When you increase your anabolic metabolism, you have more energy, burn fat, and gain muscle.  The muscle creates energy and makes the exercise easier and more enjoyable.  This creates an upward, rather than downward, spiral.  The operative word here is strength.  Strength enables us to survive--it's hardwired into our brains--fitness=survival.

Consider this:  "Whereas clinicians scratch their heads and wonder why osteoporosis (progressive weakening of the skeleton) cripples or kills more than a million Americans each year, the evolutionary biologist points out that bone strength is maintained by anabolic metabolism.  Lose anabolic drive and you lose more than bone density.  You lose strength and flexibility in joints, tendons and ligaments.  The loss of muscle mass starts the catabolic breakdown of all connective tissue."

So, what is the answer to stalling the aging process?  Exercise to maintain and increase muscle mass, thereby increasing anabolic metabolism, and keeping your body working at peak efficiency as long as possible.

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