Saturday, March 5, 2011

Can Exercise Reverse Aging?

The video clip above (which Angelo Coppola just posted on the "Latest in Paleo" Facebook page) reminded me of Dr. Jeffry Life. Last year, both the New York Times Magazine and the Los Angeles Times wrote about Life's gospel of anti-aging.
Every year, Life gets a new set of beefcake photos taken. Now 71, he said he put on five pounds of muscle this past year by scheduling extra tae kwon do practices and cranking it up a notch in the weight room. He can bench-press 235 pounds and can do 10 pull-ups, “full extension.”
(That's not all: He also regularly undergoes testosterone and human growth hormone therapy -- something that "Life views as entirely appropriate, even necessary despite the medical evidence questioning both its effectiveness and safety.")

Still, the guy's clearly on the right track when it comes to the importance of exercise for those beyond retirement age. Consider, for example, that:
  • Exercise makes you smarter. Older women who regularly weight-trained "saw an improvement in their performance on cognitive tests of memory and learning as well as in executive functions such as decision-making and conflict resolution" while those that didn't saw no such improvement. (Women who hit the weights just once a week "improved their scores in executive functioning by 12.65.")
  • Elderly persons who exercised more than three times a week were found to be "half as likely to have developed dementia, compared with the people who reported no physical activity."
  • Elderly women who regularly exercised four times a week for 18 months -- doing a variety of moves, including aerobics, balance moves and weight training -- "improved their bone mineral density by nearly 2%." Meanwhile, women who focused only on walking, muscle relaxation and breathing skills saw just a 0.33% increase in bone density -- and had a 66% higher risk of experiencing a fracture-causing fall.
No excuses. If Art De Vany can pull his Land Rover around with a rope, you can do a few deadlifts.