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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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