April 10th, 2008
10:44 AM ET

Delay aging by a decade

By Dr. Sanjay Gupta
Chief Medical Correspondent

I get up just about every day and extol the virtues of exercise, good diet and general healthy living to our global CNN audience. Most people understand that exercise is good for you, but for a long time, the question has been how good? Sure, it makes you look trim and healthy, but would it be more incentive if I told you that it not only will make you look younger, but you will actually be younger?  Watch Dr. Gupta's report on CNN.

That’s right, there is growing evidence, including a new study from the British Journal of Sports Medicine (read study) that shows maintaining aerobic fitness through middle age could delay biological aging by 12 years. Think about it. The way we measure age is pretty arbitrary, literally based on revolutions of planets. What is far more important to doctors is someone’s physiological age. After all, we probably all know 50-year olds who have the health of a 40-year old and unfortunately, vice-versa.

This particular study shows aerobic exercise, such as jogging, improves the body’s oxygen consumption and its ability to generate energy. That in turns leads to the slowing and possible reversal of the inevitable decline of our body’s function. We can, for all intents and purposes, become younger.

When I was researching material for my book Chasing Life, I also learned how important upper-body training is, for both men and women. Simply adding some upper body strength increased muscle mass, improved bone density and increased lung capacity – all important things to extend life. Do you have some other ideas? Forget for one second about simply looking younger - how do you think we can become biologically younger today?

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About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.