Get Younger, Do Yoga

Andrew Harvey
Mar 4 · 2 min read

Wait, wut? Did he say…? Yeah, I really said that…

Recently I might have written about the benefits of a regular yoga practice. Maybe once or twice anyway. But am I actually claiming that yoga can make you younger? Let’s find out.

So, telomeres.

Wait, wut? What’s a telomere?

Short answer, they’re the end caps on our DNA strands, and they protect our DNA strands from damage so cells can duplicate properly. Longer answer here. In practical terms, the length of the telomere is a measure of cellular age. Every time a cell replicates the telomere gets shorter, so shorter telomeres mean older cells while longer telomeres mean younger cells.

Thing is, cellular replication isn’t the only thing that shortens your telomeres. Some other causes of shortened telomeres are;

- Stress

- Obesity

- Sedentary lifestyle

- Poor diet

- Smoking

Hmm. Know anyone who has written about stress, weight loss, exercise and improved diet anywhere?

Anyway, all of the above is mere preamble. I made the claim, “do yoga, get younger.” Bold claim, better back that up. Sorry, I can’t, I’m an engineer, not a geneticist.

Fortunately, I don’t have to back it up, the Mayo Clinic did it for me in a study on the effects of HIIT training, weight training and combined HIIT and weight training. They found that all three types of exercise gave improvements in lean muscle mass and aerobic fitness, but only HIIT really caused improvement at the cellular level. In effect, HIIT made the subjects get younger.

Okay then, HIIT, what is it? High Intensity Interval Training. Short, intense bursts of exercise followed by short rest periods. Sort of like…yoga, wherein you hold every muscle in the body in some odd shape for 30 to 60 seconds, followed by a short rest. Then do it again, lather, rinse repeat for 60 to 90 minutes.

Let’s circle back to the Mayo Clinic study.

It wasn’t just telomeres and aging but, at the cellular level, HIIT makes you younger. In addition, the HIIT test group saw improvements in insulin sensitivity (perhaps reducing the risk of diabetes) and ribosome activity (important for building muscle). Because the HIIT group had smaller increases in strength and lean muscle mass, one of the researchers suggests it may be best to mix HIIT and strength training as “…the best way to slow down the aging process.”

If only I could direct you to someone’s thoughts on yoga as a total body workout; strength, endurance and resistance training. Oh, well.

As a final thought, the Mayo clinic found that the older you are, the greater the effects are.

So, you’re too old? You can’t start yoga at your age? On the contrary, there’s literally no better time to start.

Cross posted at standupright.ca, where I concentrate more on pain and posture.

Andrew Harvey

Written by

Father, husband, engineer. Just a guy trying to navigate the rocks and shoals of the middle years. Standupright.ca.

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