Biological Age vs Chronological Age: Why It Matters For Your Bones And Your Health

“Age is just a number.”
“You’re only as old as you feel.”
“In the end it’s not the years in your life that count, it’s the life in your years.”

Our culture is full of sayings and popular quotes about the relationship between our chronological age (the number of years since your birth) and how old we feel.

It should come as no surprise that this wisdom, passed down through generations, is in fact an astute observation of aging. There’s a lot more to how old you are than your age, and now more than ever, science is backing up that truth with studies and discoveries.

How is this relevant to your bone health? The Medical Establishment has defined osteoporosis as an inevitable “disease” that is linked to a certain time of your life based on your chronological age. According to the factors they consider, nearly every middle-aged and postmenopausal woman is a prime candidate to end up with an osteoporosis or osteopenia “diagnosis”.

Today we’ll take an in-depth look at the scientifically-based difference between chronological age and biological age. We’ll also delve into the top causes of declining health attached to biological age, and ways to combat those detrimental changes.

Aging Is Different For Everyone

Ever notice how people who are the same age can seem like they’re not the same age? One person can be spry and healthy while another is hobbled and hunched, even though they were born on the very same year.

A group of researches in New Zealand set out to examine exactly that phenomenon with a large and ambitious study that reveals a great deal about how humans age.1

The scientists tracked a group of 1,000 participants born in 1972-1973 over 12 years via three check-ins at ages 26, 32 and 38. At each interval they took thorough measurements of the health and physiology of each participant to establish their biological age.1

The measurements included:

  • The function of kidneys, liver, lungs, metabolic and immune systems
  • Cognitive function, including IQ
  • HDL cholesterol, cardiorespiratory fitness, lung function
  • Length of the telomeres (protective caps at the end of chromosomes that have been found to shorten with age. We’ll talk more about these later.)
  • Condition of the brain’s blood vessels, by examining the analogous tiny blood vessels at the back of the eyes
  • Dental health including gum condition
  • The function of kidneys, liver, lungs, metabolic and immune systems
  • Cognitive function, including IQ
  • HDL cholesterol, cardiorespiratory fitness, lung function
  • Length of the telomeres (protective caps at the end of chromosomes that have been found to shorten with age. We’ll talk more about these later.)
  • Condition of the brain’s blood vessels, by examining the analogous tiny blood vessels at the back of the eyes
  • Dental health including gum condition
  • If you suspect that not everyone’s biological age matched their chronological age, you’re right, but you might find the range truly shocking.

    The fastest aging participants managed to suffer the deterioration of two to three years of aging over the course of a single calendar year. These individuals scored worse on tests of a variety of skills and bodily systems, the day-to-day impact of which is clear.

    These people had poorer balance than their peers, less motor coordination and less physical strength.1

    Equally troubling is the cognitive decline of the fast-aging participants. Their minds were deteriorating at multiple times the rate that you would expect for someone their age. This makes it clear that your lifestyle and the state of your body are a better indicator of your likelihood for disease or injury than merely your age.

    Conversely, some participants had the health and physiology expected of someone younger than they were. They were aging slower than the average person in the group.

    The researchers went so far as to suggest that doctors shouldn’t consider chronological age alone in their assessments of disease risk. They correctly posit that a metric for calculating biological age would be far more significant and accurate.

    But How Do We Figure Our Biological Age?

    The short answer might be: how healthy are you? But there’s a race on to figure out a deeper and more scientifically specific metric.

    One study published in the journal Genome Biology attempts to isolate a group of 150 genes that collectively give a well-rounded picture of someone’s biological age.

    “We identify a novel and statistically robust multi-tissue RNA signature of human healthy ageing that can act as a diagnostic of future health, using only a peripheral blood sample. This RNA signature has great potential to assist research aimed at finding treatments for and/or management of AD (Alzheimer’s Disease) and other ageing-related conditions.”2

    The methodology of the study involved taking RNA samples from the muscle of the participants in a subject group of the same age, then isolating the 150 gene set hypothesized to be reflective of biological age.

    They then examined the results of medical tests on the participants in many different areas, both physiological and cognitive over many years. This way they were able to tell how well the gene set both expressed the subject’s current biological age, and how accurately it predicted their risk for various diseases or conditions.

    The pattern of RNA expression that they uncovered, those 150 genes, provided a “healthy aging” gene score that could be used as a more accurately representative figure for present and future health than chronological age.

    For example, those with the best healthy aging gene score at 70 years old, had significantly better renal function 12 years later. It was even independently related to the likelihood of living an additional 20 years.2

    Bones And Biological Youth

    This particular conversation should sound familiar to anyone who is engaged with bone health.

    As mentioned earlier, the Medical Establishment considers osteoporosis as an inevitable consequence of aging. And once an osteoporosis or osteopenia diagnosis is confirmed, patients are prescribed dangerous and ineffective drugs to “treat” the “disease”.

    By contrast, at the Save Institute we recognize each person as an individual with individual needs, and propose holistic approaches to change your life in ways that reduce your biological age. That’s what the Save Our Bones Program is about: to help you reduce your biological age (including that of your bones, of course), regardless of your chronological age.

    How To Stay Biologically Young

    Fortunately for Savers, the tools to keep your biological age advancing at a slower rate than your chronological age are already at your disposal. I have written at length about ways to improve your diet, sleep better, and live your life more fully.

    Now let’s have a look at two studies that help explain how certain common-sense lifestyle changes can improve your health and reduce your biological age.

    Sitting Too Much Shortens Telomeres

    Science shows us that the length of telomeres matters a whole lot. You might be wondering what these telomeres are and what they have to do with your health.

    Telomeres are little caps on the tips of the each chromosome that prevent them from deteriorating or accidentally fusing with a neighboring chromosome. As cells divide and age, bits of the telomeres are lost, so their length can be used to measure the age of a cell.

    This cell turnover, and subsequent telomere deterioration, increases due to factors including obesity, smoking, diabetes and lifestyle habits. The shorter your telomeres, the older your body is, regardless of the number of years you’ve been walking the Earth.

    Like all the other elements of physiology measured in the studies described above, people of the same age can have markedly different lengths of telomeres.

    What Keeps Telomeres Long?

    In a just-published study, scientists at the University of California San Diego looked at the relationship between an excessively sedentary lifestyle, exercise, and telomere length. They took blood samples from 1,481 participants who were already enrolled in a long term study of postmenopausal women.

    To establish accurate information about the activity level of the women in the group, the scientists gave each participant an accelerometer, which is effectively a step-counter. This method makes the study for more reliable than studies that depend on self-reporting of activity levels. The researchers also charted which women got at least 30 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity on a daily basis. The results of comparing these data sets reinforce a common sense truth of physical health.

    Sitting too much and remaining too sedentary, specifically doing so without the benefit of physical exercise, are a big detriment to your health. The effects of this are manyfold, from heart disease to bone loss, but this study uses telomeres as a metric by which to judge the cumulative physical toll.

    Amazingly, women who spent 10 hours a day sitting, and failed to get regular exercise, had a biological age 8 years older than their chronological age.3

    However, if the women got regular exercise, the amount of time they spent sedentary did not correlate to preternaturally shortened telomeres. Once again, and in the clearest possible terms, science confirms that exercise literally keeps you young.

    More Evidence For The Impact of Exercise On Telomeres

    As always, I’m dedicated to bringing you a depth of scientific research that you won’t find elsewhere. The relationship between exercise (described as Movement-Based Behaviors or MBB in the quote below) and telomere length (leukocyte telomere length or LTL) is further confirmed by a study of a sample of US adults in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.4

    Here are the results the researchers found:

    “A clear dose-response relation was observed between MBB and LTL… those engaging in 1, 2, 3, and 4 MBB, respectively, had a 3% (P = 0.84), 24% (P = 0.02), 29% (P = 0.04), and 52% (P = 0.004) reduced odds of being in the lowest (vs highest) tertile of LTL.”4

    Once again we see that exercise is a key ingredient to the extension of telomeres, and subsequently to the extension of life. Notable in this study is that the effect of exercise scales up. The more movement based activities the participants engaged in, the less likely they were to have shortened telomeres.

    Taking Action To Reduce Your Biological Age

    At the Save Institute we’ve always advocated the importance of regular exercise for bone and general health. It’s a core part of the Save Our Bones Program, and we firmly believe that it needs to be a part of everyone’s health regimen.

    For that reason, I created the Densercise™ Epidensity Training System, to provide you with a step-by-step guide that shows you 52 bone-building exercises designed for optimal bone health, and for improving your fitness level, to help you lower your biological age.

    Don’t let your chronological age stop you from exercising and from staying strong and young! If you didn’t get it yet, try the easy-to-complete exercise routines in Densercise™, and begin to lower your biological age while building your bones.

    Keep moving!

    Take Exercising For Your Bones to the Next Level!

    Learn the 52 exercise moves that jumpstart bone-building – all backed by the latest in epigenetics research.

    Learn More Now →

    References:

    1Daniel W. Belskya, et al. “Quantification of biological aging in young adults” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. July 28, 2015. Vol. 112 No. 30. Web: http://www.pnas.org/content/112/30/E4104.abstract

    2Sanjana Sood, et al. “A novel multi-tissue RNA diagnostic of healthy ageing relates to cognitive health status” Genome Biology. 201516:185. 7 September 2015. DOI: 10.1186/s13059-015-0750-x. Web: http://genomebiology.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13059-015-0750-x

    3Aladdin H. Shadyab, Caroline A. Macera, et al. “Associations of Accelerometer-Measured and Self-Reported Sedentary Time With Leukocyte Telomere Length in Older Women” Am J Epidemiol (2017) 185 (3): 172-184. 01 February 2017. Web: https://academic.oup.com/aje/article-abstract/185/3/172/2915786/Associations-of-Accelerometer-Measured-and-Self?redirectedFrom=fulltext

    4Loprinzi PD, Loenneke JP, Blackburn EH. “Movement-Based Behaviors and Leukocyte Telomere Length among US Adults.” Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2015 Nov; 47(11):2347-52. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000000695. Web: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25970659

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  1. Raquel Rego March 16, 2017, 1:13 pm

    Awesome article. Exercise the key to sedentary jobs.. Thanks so much.
    Been lazy after got back from my daily work and with low interest to move about aggressively. This article is great to remind me of what am loosing out .
    Blessings to your tireless effort/contribution to keep us healthy !

  2. geno February 22, 2017, 9:57 am

    good vibes!!

  3. Edith Pammit February 20, 2017, 3:45 pm

    Very interesting topic, Thank you so much, give more reasons not to complain and keep on moving.

  4. Vida February 16, 2017, 12:28 pm

    Hi Vivian ,
    I am following your program .readings most of the books .
    I am trying to do seven days cleanse now.
    You mention about raw food like cabbages or kale ,because I have low thyroid function I must cook these kind of vegetables first ,do you have any suggestions???
    Also ,I have nutribullt which I blend all vegetable like carrots ,cellary ,spinach ,….with almond mild .is it right to do it ???
    In your book you mention I should do juicing not make smoothies with vegetables ..??
    Please help me ??

  5. Marlene February 16, 2017, 9:19 am

    Good morning Vivian,
    Thank you very much for sharing these EXCELLENT
    information.
    Have a wonderful day.
    Marlene

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA February 16, 2017, 10:41 am

      You’re welcome, Marlene!

  6. Stuart February 16, 2017, 8:15 am

    I think I purchased Densercize on my prior computer, but I am not sure. Is it possible to use my email to see if I purchased it? If I did, is it possible for me to download it again on my new computer? My old one crashed, and my files were lost. Thanks!

    • Save Institute Customer Support February 16, 2017, 9:10 am

      Hi Stuart,
      Please check your inbox for a message from our customer support team. We will be glad to address your issue about Densercise. 🙂

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