I love the rush that’s associated with running, especially when I gain a burst of energy and my heart pumps ferociously. Even better, we’ve all heard about how exercise can improve your mood and lower your risk for a variety of medical conditions, especially cardiovascular ones. Perhaps you’ve also heard about how exercise can slow aging. I’m here to say that more evidence has arisen in support of this idea.
In one study, researchers examined the muscles of frequent cyclists between the ages of 55 and 79. Their data suggested that the older cyclists had muscle composition and size comparable to the younger cyclists. Therefore, we can say that highly active individuals seem to slow down their own aging processes.
In another study, researchers wished to examine if exercise could boost one’s immune system, and by extension, slow down aging. They found that a given cyclist’s immune system was comparable to that of a sedentary adult many years younger!
If I’m honest, this research doesn’t surprise me at all. Exercise improves your circulation, which allows molecules to travel to their destinations more accurately and effectively. Sweating, an obvious byproduct of exercise, allows for the release of toxins from the body. More generally, exercise seems to make your body sharper in countless ways.
I’ll share a metaphor with you that my biology professor once shared with me. Imagine that you’re on a conveyor belt, at the end of which awaits – for a slight euphemism – the grim reaper. If you exercise regularly and maintain a balanced diet, you are running backwards on the conveyor belt and away from the grim reaper, but the speed of the belt still carries you towards the dark figure. If you live in moderation, you are standing still on the conveyor belt, on track to live a fairly average lifespan. Finally, if you smoke and drink excessively and live a sedentary lifestyle, you are running towards the grim reaper on the belt, which makes you arrive there faster.
On a much lighter note, with this knowledge filed in my mind, I’m sure that I’ll be even more motivated to run alongside my golden doodle puppy in the park this summer!
By Kishan Patel