Aging & Exercise

Everyone knows that aging is out of our control. It’s simple. As time moves forward, we get older. But you don’t have to be resigned to a future of declining health as you get older. Aging might be out of our control, but we CAN control how healthy we are as we get older. Think about it. Why can some people live good lives well beyond age 100, with relatively few physical and mental problems, while others suffer from countless diseases and cognitive troubles that rob the golden years of their life?

The answer is, in part, exercise. Exercise is best way to slow down the side effects of aging and cognitive decline. It is a preventive medicine and a cure for seniors. Below we will examine how exercise keeps your cells healthy, a practice that can prevent diseases like Alzheimers and depression. Let me explain how exercise helps slow the effects of aging. As we get older, our cells gradually lose the ability to adjust to physical and emotional stress. While our genes play a major role in how well our cells age, our lifestyles and the emotional stresses we have endured for many years also have a major influence on how we age.

But seniors who exercise have, in effect, stronger cells. Their cells are not as susceptible to the stresses of the daily grind, or the emotional ups and downs of life. Our body produces protein factors, known as macrophages, which are supposed to clean up waste and dead cells when needed. But as we get older, it is harder for our cells to produce the macrophages that clean up dead cells. This quickly puts a person on a “cellular death spiral,” known as apoptosis.

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To make up for the slow dead cell clean-up, the body looks to the immune system for help. But the immune system’s main job is fighting germs and other invader cells, not cleaning up dead cells. So as the white blood cells, T-cells, and “natural killer” cells of the immune system are activated, inflammations and swelling becomes more frequent, or even chronic.

At a cellular level, exercise not only helped growth these regions of the brain, but it also helped build new neurons and neuronal connections, increasing the size and speed of the brain. While exercise has been widely established to increase the brain’s cerebellum in senior citizens, few know it takes just six months of exercise to increase the frontal and temporal lobes, as well as the hippocampus region of the brain in seniors as well.

This may surprise you, but exercise does more for the brain than it does for the body. As we discussed above, it strengthens the connections between your brain cells and slows down cell death. As seniors age, many neglect to eat a healthy diet, exercise, and take care of their minds. Those unhealthy lifestyle choices can accelerate aging. And as the body slows down, the brain follows. There is a strong biological connection between the brain and the body. Exercise helps keep your body resilient, sharpens your mind, and strengthens the connections between your brain cells.

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