You Can Stop Aging Today
From your body’s point of view, “normal” aging isn’t normal at all. It’s a choice you make by the way you live your life. The other choice is to tell your cells to grow—to build a strong, vibrant body and mind.
Exercise your way to youth
According to Dr. Henry, our biology is built to move. This is part of our evolution. Exercise is the master signaling system that tells our cells to grow instead of fade. When we exercise, that process of growth spreads throughout every cell in our bodies, making us functionally younger. Not a little bit younger—a lot younger. True biological aging is a surprisingly slow and graceful process. You can live out your life in a powerful, healthy body if you are willing to put in the work.
Evolution of our biological body
Let’s take a step back to see how exercise works at the cellular level. Our body is made up of trillions of cells with a life span of a few weeks or a few months. They then die and are replaced by new cells in an endless cycle. A quick biological summary, your taste buds live only a few hours, white blood cells live 10 days, and your muscle cells live about three months. Even your bones dissolve and are replaced, over and over again. Take note that only a few key stem cells in each organ and your brain cells are the only ones that are irreplaceable since day one.
New Body Everyday?
All of your other cells are in a constant state of renewal. Everyday, you are replacing about 1% of your cells. In reality, you get 1% of your body brand new every day after day and rest assured you will be getting another 1% tomorrow. In a different perspective, you are in fact getting a whole new body every three months. It’s not100% accurate, but it’s pretty close. Viewed that way, you are walking around in a body that is brand-new since New Year—new cells, new muscles, new organs. Wriggle your toes and you know you will be getting new ones by the next coming seasonal holiday!
Whether your body is functionally younger or older is a choice you make by how you live. You decide whether your new cells are stronger or weaker, whether they grow or decay each day from then on. Your cells don't understand your decisions but they simply just follow the directions you send. Exercise, and your cells get stronger; sit down, and they decay. This all boils down to our evolution over billions of years in nature, where all animals face two great cellular challenges: The first is to grow strong, fast and fit in the spring, when food abounds and there are calories to fuel hungry muscles, bones and brains.
The second is to decay as fast as possible in the winter, when calories disappear and surviving starvation is the key to life. There are many talks about being you are what your eat. There is some relevance but it’s not the key. Motion controls your system. Though we’ve moved indoors, our cells still think we’re living out in the open, struggling to stay alive each day. It's the same when you exercise, your muscles release specific substances that travel throughout your bloodstream, telling your cells to grow. Sedentary muscles, on the other hand, let out a steady trickle of chemicals that whisper to every cell to decay, day after day after day.
Men who go from sedentary to fit, cut their risk of dying from a heart attack by 75% over five years. Women cut their risk by 80%—and heart attacks are the largest single killer of women. Both men and women can double their leg strength with three months of exercise, and most of us can double it again in another three months. This is true whether you’re in your 20s or your 90s. It’s not a miracle or a mystery. It’s your biology, and you’re in charge.
Emotions are key to anti aging
The other master signal to our cells—equal and, in some respects, even more important than exercise—is emotion. One of the most fascinating revelations of the last decade is that emotions change our cells through the same molecular pathways as exercise. Anger, stress and loneliness are signals for “starvation” and chronic danger. They “melt” our bodies as surely as sedentary living. Optimism, love and community trigger the process of growth, building our bodies, hearts and minds. Men who have a heart attack and come home to a family are four times less likely to die of a second heart attack. Women battling heart disease or cancer do better in direct proportion to the number of close friends and relatives they have. Babies in the ICU who are touched more often are more likely to survive. Everywhere you look, you see the role of emotion in our biology.
Make your choice today
Like exercise, it’s a choice. It’s hard to discipline yourself to exercise every day especially with our busy lives. Hence, it’s even harder to find the time and energy to maintain relationships and build communities. But it’s really worth all your effort when you weigh your benefits. Go for a walk or a run and realize that deep in your cells, down at the level of molecular genetics, we are wired to exercise and to care. We’re beginning to wake up to that as a nation, but you might not want to wait. You might want to join millions of others and change your life.
Start today. Your cells are listening...