Wednesday, October 2, 2019
There are certain physical feats that can increase your chances of living a long life, including being able to perform 50 pushups, going from sitting on the floor to standing without the use of your hands, having an overall firm grip, or increasing your walking speed. But each of these skills have the message in the end: strength, nimbleness, and overall health.
Generally, fit people can walk faster, perform more pushups, and easily stand up from sitting cross-legged on the floor compared to a frail person. “There’s no question that exercise is the biggest anti-aging medicine there’s ever going to be — it’s really huge,” Gordon Lithgow says, chief academic officer at Buck Institute for Research on Aging. Michael Joyner, a physician and human physiology researcher at the Mayo Clinic, states that even just 10 to 15 minutes of exercise per day can be beneficial. The measurable benefits plateau after a person reaches an hour a day, meaning if they are exercising for longer than 60 minutes they are doing it for another reason other than longevity.
And exercise keeps your brain healthy, too. “Exercise has better effects on cognitive performance than sitting around playing brain games,” Stanford Center on Longevity founding director Laura L. Carstensen says. A 2006 study in Neuroscience found that exercise spurs the brain to release growth factors that promote new connections between neurons, contributing to the brain's health. There is even research suggesting that strength training can reverse some age-related changes in your muscles.
See Christie Aschwanden, The Longevity Files: A Strong Grip? Push-ups? What Actually can Help You Live to a Ripe Old Age, Washington Post, September 28, 2019.
Special thanks to Naomi Cahn (Harold H. Greene Professor of Law, George Washington University School of Law) for bringing this article to my attention.