The opposite of ageing is training

Among cosmetic products, diets and formulas that promise miracles, the debate on anti-ageing practices is rich and constantly evolving. So many things have been said and so many denials have been made. When we talk about "anti-ageing" the first thing that comes to mind is the use of cosmetic products for the skin, however, it seems that the best ally of those who want to stay young as long as possible, from every point of view, is another: training.

This is one of the topics that will be discussed during the Global Wellness Summit that will take place within the Technogym Village. Delegates will discuss future trends and business opportunities in the wellness market with a focus on the Italian context in areas such as food, art, design and fashion.

First step: change the point of view

To fully understand the relationship between training and ageing (and practices to delay its effects) it is first of all necessary to take a new viewpoint. This was explained by the American journalist Jeff Bercovici in his book Play on: how to get better with age: it’s not ageing that causes the deterioration of physical fitness, but the deterioration of physical fitness that causes ageing. In this book, the objective of Bercovici was precisely to dispel the thesis that the life of human beings is a linear process that leads to a slow deterioration of physical functions.

And what better testimony than athletes who remain competitive even far beyond the age-limit for their sport? Roger Federer and Serena Williams are just a couple of famous examples. Starting from their stories, Bercovici has introduced a new perspective on anti-ageing, taking care to emphasise a key element: staying young for a long time is not an exclusive prerogative of professional athletes.

Train to avoid ageing

What do high-intensity training, strength training, indoor biking and meditation have in common? At this point, although not obvious, the answer should be simple: all these forms of exercise can be fully included in anti-ageing practices.

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), a training method that alternates moments of very intense activity with periods of exercise at lower intensity, would in fact activate a series of physical processes that would bring different benefits at the cellular level. In this case, the secret lies in finding the right balance. The ideal would be to restart training in this way: 20% at high intensity, 80% at lower intensity. But how do you know when you are doing a really high intensity exercise? The most effective indicator is your heart rate: it must increase a lot, to the point that your training becomes so tiring that it is unpleasant. While you're training, you should ask yourself the question: Can you withstand that degree of intensity for a long time? If the answer is no, then you're on the right track.

Equally important is strength training, which can help combat various symptoms of ageing, such as muscle weakness, weight gain and even cognitive impairment. No one knows better than athletes how important muscle strengthening is to avoiding injuries.

But the benefits of strength training go far beyond that. First of all, this type of physical activity is fundamental for the construction and maintenance of the skeletal muscle, which is closely related to weight. The skeletal muscle, in fact, burns many calories, and its reduction involves a slowdown in metabolism, the main cause of weight gain that often occurs with advancing years. In addition, strength training has also been associated with beneficial effects at the neurological level: this type of exercise would be able to improve cognitive functions.

Training for beauty

As mentioned, exercise also has a positive influence on the aesthetic level, beyond physical fitness. Research conducted in Belgium has in fact found that an indoor cycling session of 45 minutes, like other types of cardio training such as the treadmill or dance, increases the production of the protein NRF1, which protects the telomeres, placed in the final part of the DNA, with a protective action on the cells.
With ageing, telomeres tend to wear out, and as a result cells age. These activities would be able to slow down this process, keeping the cells in good condition for longer, with a noticeable rejuvenating effect.
Telomeres have also been the subject of research conducted by the University of California, which focused on the effects of stress. Stress as a negative friend of health is certainly not a recent discovery, but the American research found that, in chronic form, stress can accelerate the degradation of telomeres, and thus ageing.

If changing the routine to make everyday life less stressful may seem much easier to say than to do, meditation or other practices of mindfulness may be a solution: even just thirty minutes a week of relaxation could improve life and make it even more beautiful.

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