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Is Endurance Exercise the Fountain of Youth?

By , SparkPeople Blogger
For thousands of years man has been in search of the so-called 'The Fountain of Youth'. From Alexander the Great to Ponce de Leon's quest to modern day science, there seems to be a fascination that spans the test of time to fight the inevitable--growing old. It is something many of us have either learned to accept or we do our best to fight it every step of the way.

Having had the pleasure to visit the so-called Fountain of Youth 15 years ago, it was quite interesting to drink the very strong sulfur-smelling water that flowed from a PVC pipe into awaiting Dixie Cups. For the cost of admission, all I walked away with was a metallic taste in my mouth, a little less money in my pocket, and the same wrinkles and gray hair that I arrived with. Unfortunately, I never experienced any signs of turning back the clock, whether physically or emotionally.

While some people despise the notion of growing older, even to the point they refuse to acknowledge their age to anyone outside their circle of friends, I am actually looking forward to turning the big 5-0 in a few short months. It seems with each passing day I am learning to embrace all the changes my body is going through, although that hasn't always been the case. Trust me, there are days I would love to return to the days of my youth when I did not have to worry about where I placed my reading glasses or better yet try to remember what was on my agenda for the week. I used to pride myself on an impeccable memory, however, these days, unless I write it down I am sure to forgot.

Looking in the mirror each morning usually reveals a few more wrinkles and gray hairs that did not seem to be so visible to the naked eye a few days earlier. Although this may be the normal progression of aging, I have not reached that point in my life where I am willing to give up coloring my hair and using the anti-aging creams that promise a more youthful appearance. I can't say with all certainty when the time to give up these perks will be, but until then, if they make me feel better about myself, than by all means, I plan on sticking with my anti-aging protocol for a while.

Now that the baby boomer generation is at or quickly approaching retirement age, it seems as though the list of anti-aging products hitting the stores shelves is growing on an almost daily basis. In fact, many in the world of business have come to believe that aging is a growing business opportunity bringing in over $50 billion in sales yearly. However, while many of us are willing to dole out hundreds or even thousands of dollars per year on potions, serums and supplements, including vitamins, many may be overlooking the most obvious anti-ager of all and that is exercise.

According to a study conducted by McMaster University exercise appears to be a key in helping many of us prevent the tribulations growing old can cause by improving mitochondrial function, "which is critical for reducing morbidity and mortality."

Over the years researchers have reported drastic improvements in active daily living activities in seniors when they begin a very simple strength training program. We are also aware of better balance and reflexes when one engages in a regular aerobic, strength training and flexibility workouts. While these activities may not change the wrinkles or graying of the hair, when we retain strength, balance and healthy bodies, we may be able to deter some of the diseases that can lessen our mortality.

So the next time you reach for that eye cream, be sure to go for a nice walk, do a little strength training and flexibility training and you will be well on the road to finding your own 'fountain of youth'.

Do you exercise only to expend calories or do you see the other positive side-effects from daily exercise? Do you believe exercise is a factor in keeping us youthful?

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Exercise not only makes me look better and makes me stronger, but improves my a1c, bp, and overall health. I'm 68 and in better shape than a lot of the 20 somethings I work with. Report
DIROB57 11/10/2017
Exercise helps me...
Control my weight
Be stronger and more fit
Helps me move easier w/less stiffness in my joints
Feel better in general! Report
AJB121299 10/15/2017
nice Report
ROBBIEY 9/26/2017
Exercise and movement is key. Report
AJB121299 9/5/2017
Nice Report
THOMASINA57 8/16/2017
I failed to mention that at 93, Mom is still living semi independent in an assisted living facility. Report
THOMASINA57 8/16/2017
I like to believe that the exercise I am doing is going to give me a better quality of life as I age, I'm 62 now and am the same size I was as a teen. On the other hand, my Mom turns 93 in 2 weeks, has never exercised other than working around the house and yard, and walking for her is shopping at a mall, and she always has eaten candy and other sweets.. so it seems genetics also is a strong factor in how we age. My Dad was more active and died many years ago... go figure!!!! Report
Nancy, I started my healthful transformation a year and a half before I turned 50. By the time I reached that milestone I was healthier and had more energy than I can remember ever having. I think a healthy diet of all the food groups - but stressing fresh fruits and vegetables PAIRED with daily exercise is the key.

I turned 50 and went to Memphis to celebrate with my younger sister, her younger friend and another friend who had just hit that milestone - I had THE BEST birthday, hands down! Including dancing in the street with random people and a visit to Coyote Ugly - to become a temporary Coyote. None of which I would have ever had the nerve or energy to do before incorporating exercise into my daily life! You will hit that milestone either the same day or within days of my younger sister and I wish you both the best, happiest and healthiest birthdays ever! Hands down! Report
That is one of the main reasons I work out (besides the fact that I like it and I like the way I feel when I am done). I know it will prolong my life and provide more quality as I grow older!! Report
I'm really not sure what is meant by the title of this blog--"endurance" exercise??? Does the author mean to continue exercise into old age?

The one comment mentioning 150 miles in 2 days--that sounds like endurance! But it sure wouldn't work for me.
I guess the question begs: "Do you live to exercise? or Do you exercise to live?"

I would prefer to think it is more about balance in ALL things. Report
I'm 54 years old with most of my original hair color (just a few gray hairs). I just finished the MS-150 (150 miles over two days to raise money for Multiple Sclerosis) faster than most people decades younger than me. Definitely, exercise is the fountain of youth! Report
I feel great when I exercise, it get's the blood flowing, and I just feel better, in general. Report
Jack LaLanne lived to be 96, so he certainly knew the benefits of exercise. He was healthy until the week he passed away, when he got a Respiratory infection. Exercise certainly helps, but that includes YOGA and Tai Chi, etc. Report
I find that walking improves my mood, allows me to refocus when I return to work, relieves headaches from sitting at the computer, and is just plain fun. I also love when people are shocked that I am 50 and a grandmother, they say I look so much younger. I certainly feel much younger.
Yes, Yes and Yes again!! I use everthing this wonderful age has invented to keep me healthy, fit, and youthful!! No lipo, no injections, no, no, no, just cleansing and moisturizing (I credit Mary Kay products for my often complimented skin). But, the real secret is EXERCISE!! I'm going to be 70 come next March and although I love having the wisdom that aging brings, I love not feeling as old as alot of my acquaintences. Long live ME!!! Report
I have arthritis and sciatica and rely on exercise for mobility. I am trying to stay as mobile as I can, primarily for independence, so I can handle my own responsibilities. I had been doing some strength training and cardio and am adding more. Right now the pain levels and hot weather put a crimp in my efforts at walking, but I persist and walk as much as I can handle. Since I'd like to drop some wieght, the calorie-burning aspect is good, but not my focus. I am still limited in some activities, but I know it'd be worse if I stopped daily exercise. Report
I believe physical activity is the most important anti-aging factor both for the brain and the body. Report
If you never light a fire in the fireplace, you can't expect the smokestack to stay empty of birds nests. Report
Exercise makes me more energetic. I do exercise to burn calories but I also enjoy it. Report
I exercise to burn calories but there are so many benefits. They run the gamut from sleeping better to improved mood. I do think it makes me feel more youthful. Report
I exercise to burn off calories, lose inches and get firmer. Even though I have to talk myself into exercising, I always feel better afterwards. Report
It helps me to get to sleep, so that can definitely lead to some extra beauty :)

I feel so much better after a workout, that doesn't mean I'm always 100% motivated, but it certainly helps! Report
I believe exercise will improve my chances for longevity. There are so many positive reasons for exercising, that I am glad that it is a part of my regular routine. Report
I love the "high" that daily exercise brings. That makes me walk taller and have more energy for all the chores of life. At any age - that makes me feel younger. Report
I love to tell my age now, which is 51. I struggled with my 40's and hated to tell people how "old" I was. I'm now a fit, healthy old lady and I embrace each day and I love looking for new fitness goals to achieve. It's insane and i LOVE IT! Report
Yes I believe you feel younger with you workout & eat clean. Report
Exercise not only burns those calories, but I feel so much better and more energetic afterward. Love the benefits. Report
Exercise and eating healthy = a youthful attitude and a happy body. Now if they could only slow down the graying process. LOL Report
exercise = essential Report
I plan on being one of those old women who still hikes 9 miles in one day and runs three days a week. While I have a LONG TIME before I'm really old (I'm only 26), I'm looking forward to being a badass, healthy, fit ol' lady who looks 60, acts 50, and is really 80! Report
Puglover you are an inspiration! Report
I do it not only for calorie burn, but emotional health. Exercise has been so tremendous for me - especially recently, in dealing iwth my father's death. Report
Exercise has been proved to have many health benefits. I exercise so that as I age I will be able to take care of myself. I also feel better! Report
i exercise mainly to maintain a good healthy body and then my secondary reason is to burn cals.

however i was dismayed the other day after feeling a bump on my spine and went to the doctor only to be sent to the osteopathic surgeon's office as well as the orthopedist. They say i have been exercising wrongly which may have caused cartilage/spine to go out of whack?(/!!!**+++-,) huh.

so now I may have to do some spine therapy...gee, talk about trying to do what's good! Report
With the increase in anti-aging products targeting baby boomers, I figure they'll probably develop a geriatric tricycle I can ride when I'm no longer able to balance on my two-wheeler. Have you received your invitation to join AARP yet? Report
I turned 50 this year, also. And I weigh less and am in better shape than I have been for decades! I sometimes can hardly believe what a difference that 20 fewer pounds and (almost) daily exercise has made! I still have a lot of weight to lose, but I'm confident it will eventually come off, and I will feel even better with every pound and every day of exercise. I've been concentrating on cardio and strength, but have recently added about 10 to 15 minutes of stretching and flexibility. Report
Since making "physical fitness" a priority in my daily routine...I have rediscovered flexibility; strength...but still working on endurance. I am a firm believer and know, from my own experience, that exercise is a factor and a neccesity in the process of healthy ageing. So happy I've made this choice of eating healthy and exercising (aerobic; strength and cardio).

Great Blog!!! Report
Loved this post. At 67 I have used very little anti-aging creams etc. It is what it is. Report
Exercise is my greatest weapon against emotional aging for sure. I feel younger and stronger when I am on a consistent running schedule. Great blog. Thanks for sharing!! Report
I exercise because it keeps me healthy from the neck up. It staves off depression, stabilizes my mood, helps with my self esteem and confidence and helps me focus on achieving my goals.

It doesn't hurt that it keeps me fit and my girlfriend thinks I'm sexy! Report
I have truly embraced exercise in the last 3+ years. I lost my husband at age 42 and I am raising our 2 children alone now. And the feelings all the brings on are overwhelming. First I walked, then I ran, and now I am training for my first triathlon. Yes - I have lost weight. I am the smallest size I have ever been as an adult. But I do it for how it makes me FEEL. I credit it with helping me cope. And I know it is prolonging my life so I will be here for my children!! Report
Great blog...I exercise to feel good/to look good today and for many tomorrows. A couple of years ago, as age 50 approached, I decided my motto was to be 50 & fabulous. I was walking & feeling good. Then I slowed down for awhile. However, at 51, I began a recommitment to me. Now I'm 52, with an ongoing motto of "becoming a better me" through walking, dancing, playing tennis, eating better, drinking more water, consistently nurturing my mind & my spirit. Report
I will be 50 in 2.5 years. I actually love getting older, all the stuff that I use to think was so important, no longer matters. It is increadible freedom. I loved your post, and the fact that exercise is really the fountain of youth!!
Just wear sunscreen so all the hours we're outside doing endurance exercise doesn't end with prematurely aged skin.

One of my rules: NEVER try to guess the age of a fit person. Report
Without a doubt I exercise to keep me in the best shape possible as I age! I also feel like I am trying to beat the clock where cancer is concerned; it runs rampant in my family. I know I might not be able to avoid it by lifestyle choices alone, but everything I can do NOW to make me stronger TOMORROW I'm all for. Report
I started running about 3 years ago, and I started triathlon training last winter. I've had multiple people say that I look younger now than even a year ago. Endurance training is proving to be my fountain of youth. Report
I am excited about the changes that exercise and losing a little more than 20 pounds have done for me! Yes, I exercise for more reasons than to lose weight! I am almost 72 years old, am a little crippled, have arthritis, etc.! However, I am now completely off medication for cholesterol (Mine is perfect!) and my medicine for hypertension has been reduced by half. (My blood pressure is perfect, too. I'm hoping my doctor will eventually take me off the medicine completely. It's hard for her to believe I can do it because I've been taking it for 22 years!) The other day I worked hard all day long, including walking on my treadmill, ironing and vacuuming and shampooing carpet. When I was finished, I was very tired, but my legs did not hurt a bit! Before I started exercising I could only do ONE of those things per day, and only for about one hour per day! I had to rest with my feet up for the remains of the day! I also used to have spinal injections once every three months ... haven't had one since June 2010! I'd say YES, exercise (combined with the weight loss) has made my body younger and more energetic! AND, I only exercise moderately 30 - 40 minutes a day, at least three days a week (more when I can). I AM A BELIEVER IN EXERCISE! Report
Aerobic exercise energizes me and Pilates keeps me limber. I seem to need to keep relearning that over and over. I had been complaining for months about low energy - I found it (the energy) this past week when I added aerobic exercise back into the mix. Report
exercise plays a big role in staying limber,looking younger and healthier. Report
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