A just-published study elucidates that humans have evolved to extend their lifespan by remaining physically active, including during old age.
This evolutionary case for the importance of staying active helps to explain many biological processes that previous research has already confirmed. We know that staying active increases our lifespan and healthspan– the number of years we remain healthy.
Now, with the new study, we have insights into why that's true, and how it fits into the Osteoporosis Reversal Program's plan for a long life of dependably strong bones.
The Conventional Wisdom Is Wrong
There's a widely-held belief that as people age they naturally slow down and become less active. Not only does this new study fundamentally contradict that belief, but it explains how humans developed the ability to slow the aging process through exercise.
The researchers out of Harvard observed that apes, the evolutionary cousins of humans, are actually far more sedentary than humans were back when most societies survived by hunting and gathering.1
We evolved because humans stayed active over their full life span. Instead of sitting around as they aged, our ancestors continued to participate in an active lifestyle.1
The researchers found that over time, our bodies developed ways to use this physical activity to slow the effects of aging, stay healthy, and increase longevity. Essentially, our bodies were designed to keep moving as we age– not to slow down.1
Conventional wisdom believes that people naturally slow down as they age. But new research finds the opposite to be true. Over the long process of evolution, humans actually evolved to stay active throughout their lives to increase longevity.
The Positive Impact Of Using Your Body
These incredible evolutionary developments provide us with the ability to live long and healthy lives. We unlock that ability by remaining active. Thanks to many decades of research, we now understand many of the mechanisms that allow us to do that.
One of the simplest examples is muscle growth. When we exert ourselves using our muscles, that exertion causes micro-damage to the muscle tissue. That may seem problematic, but it's actually an opportunity because the micro-damage causes the body to repair the damage by adding additional muscle mass– building strength where needed.
The same principle is at play when we strengthen our bones through weight-bearing exercise. Bone cells called osteocytes are mechanosensitive— meaning they can sense mechanical pressure. When our muscles exert force on our bones, these cells respond by triggering the bone remodeling process. Our body then removes any bone cells that have been damaged by age and use, and replaces them with new bone mass.
This is how we keep our bodies young, strong, and healthy. If we're sedentary, we don't stimulate new growth. The researchers also pointed out that when we don't remain active, our bodies take unused energy from our diets and over-invest in fat storage. This over-investment is potentially harmful and is linked to a number of chronic diseases.1
Physical exertion stimulates growth. Using our muscles creates micro-damage that our body repairs by adding extra muscle mass. Similarly, the pressure exerted on our bones through weight-bearing exercise stimulates the addition of bone mass.
How Much Exercise Do You Need?
The World Health Organization (WHO) and National Institute for Health recommend 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity each week to remain healthy.
The intensity of the workout makes a difference. You can get the same benefits from doing vigorous-intensity activities for 75-150 minutes a week.
Those are important goals, but improving your health through exercise isn't an all-or-nothing proposition. The study authors note that even 10-20 minutes of activity a day can reduce negative health outcomes and increase longevity.
Get at least 150 to 300 minutes of moderate physical activity each week, or 75-150 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity.
What This Means To You
Keep moving! Don't let the passage of time convince you to slow down. If anything, as you get older you should increase your physical activity.
That's why the Save Institute created SaveTrainer. SaveTrainer is an online workout platform that makes it easy to incorporate bone-building life-extending physical activities into your daily life. SaveTrainer’s workouts are fully customizable to your current ability level, with videos led by professional trainers.
Longevity is your evolutionary destiny! Follow in the footsteps of our ancestors by staying physically active regardless of your age. As we now know, it’s the path to better health, longer life, and stronger bones.