Reaching middle age used to mean taking it easier and reducing demands on your body. But getting older no longer means getting weaker. Because no matter how many birthdays you’ve celebrated, it’s now proven that exercise can make you feel and look younger than you actually are.
As well as making you feel younger, exercise actually turns off the ageing process in your chromosomes. It’s to do with the telemores at the end of the chromosomes, which shorten as you age. Recent studies have found that regular exercise helps lengthen them, which translates into slower cellular ageing.
Of course, you won’t notice this happen, but you will notice the numerous other anti-ageing effects of exercise, including reduced belly fat, higher metabolism and sex drive, improved flexibility, posture and vigour, glowing skin and improved blood flow, boosted mood and memory and reduced stress. That makes all those gym sessions seem worthwhile!
Not all. Take inspiration from the sportsmen and women such as Roger Federer and Serena Williams in their late 30s and into their 40s who are still performing at top level. British runner Jo Pavey, 45, is even now preparing for the European Athletics Championships.
In fact, there are some benefits to having not pushed your body to its limit in youth or early adulthood – you won’t have accrued the stress damage that can leave some athletes struggling in middle-age.
Research shows HIIT is the best choice – aim for 10-20 minutes a week. Keep the ratio of high:low intensity exercise 20:80. Also add in strength training (bodyweight exercises, push ups, squats) for muscle mass to help prevent age-linked injuries.
And you don’t have to do a lot. Just 10 minutes of brisk daily walking can reduce your risk of early death by 15%, and further reduce your risk of serious diseases. Make your gym visits a habit for life and you will definitely retain your youthful glow and energy levels for longer.
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I didn't start exercising until my 30s so its also very reassuring to learn that it doesn't matter when you start - it's all good
It just occurred to me now amazing it actually is that we know about telemores and how they're linked to ageing. It's incredible that we now know exactly how we age and that is very motivating to know exercise helps them lengthen.
this is all quite reassuring - I do have damage from sports when younger but it is good to know it is worth carrying on.
I don't think I'm up for world athletics but I'm not in bad shape for my early 40s. And I think a lot of it is down to daily walking to work of an hour, as well as the usual gym workouts.