Most of us are familiar with the endorphin boost of working out and the beneficial effects on our physique, but current research is finding that exercise has benefits going much deeper – even down to the level of our DNA.
Researchers have found that physical activity functions like armor for the body, protecting it from some of the most prevalent illnesses in the world, including heart disease, 13 different types of cancer, type II diabetes, and even mental disorders like anxiety, depression, and Alzheimer’s disease. Exercise has also been shown to protect the chromosomes in our DNA as our cells divide, which allows the cells to remain functionally younger. The more often you exercise, the more you reap these benefits.
Making time for physical activity every day is a powerful antiaging strategy, and the good news is that you don’t have to exercise for that long for the anti-aging effects to kick in; even a 20-minute workout has been demonstrated to help cells work better and more efficiently, like a tune-up for your body. This translates not just to a longer life, but also a better quality of life.
What kind of exercise is best? It’s recommended to get both aerobic and strength training, but fewer Americans are reaping the benefits of strength training. While both are important, strength training has unique powers to protect (and even improve) bone density; this is especially important for women, who lose bone density over time, leading to osteoporosis. Strength training also increases our metabolism by growing muscle mass, and it can lower a woman’s risk for Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Though it can be intimidating for some, strength training may be the most efficient form of exercise for overall anti-aging benefits.
And if efficiency is your goal, Pilates may be the best way to get your strength training in. This hundred-year-old strength-training practice not only promises all the benefits of traditional strength training, but also improved posture, better sensory awareness, and even the potential to relieve chronic low-back pain. Pilates movements are deceptively simple, but they do require an experienced teacher to learn proper form in order to safely benefit from all that this practice has to offer.
However you get it, exercise may be your best tool for longevity and an improved quality of life over the long-term. The best form of exercise is the one that you can stick with, so find some support and create an exercise plan that works for you, wherever you are in life.