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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soundoff (31 Responses)
  1. Karan Summitt

    With interest I watched your report on the morning news. Great reinforcement to what so many health professionals are now advocating. Another behavior supported by the "Okinawa Study" relates the increased use of fresh fruits and vegetables to increasing longevity. In addition to helping adults control their calorie intake but still be able to eat a moderate volume of food, fruits and vegetables are extremely rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidents–thus leading to a healthier body and one better able to deal with any major illnesses that might occur. You are probably aware that the national Cancer Institute has mounted its own "5-a-day" campaign advocating the increased use of fruits and vegetables. Sadly, the most recent data I have found related that while the NCI was able to spend about
    $9.5 million on this campaign, the food and restaurant industry spent approximately $11.2 billion advertising all other foods–including many foods and restaurant choices saturated with calories. Who's message are we more likely to see?

    Karan Summitt
    Health Educator
    St Bernards Center for Weight Loss
    Jonesboro, Arkansas

    April 10, 2008 at 12:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Rami

    I can definitely relate to this info. I'm 40 Years old and I have the energy and the endurance of a 20 year old.

    It all started at the age of 36 when my physical exam revealed border line cholesterol and as my Dr explained it, adding regular exercise and changing lifestyle is something I should invest in. I took my Dr's advise serioulsy and started an exercise regiment at home before I start my workday. I decided to invest in a home gym and a treadmill. Within just a few weeks, I discovered a new begining. I started to sleep better, lost some weight and my Cholesterol results were excellent. For the last 4 Years I have not missed a beat. I now have an Elliptical, Running and Bike treadmills as well as a home Gym. I do aerobic by rotating exercise machines each day for 4 days a week ( running 6 mi per hr, or bike or Elliptical ) for 1 hr and 3 days a week I do resistance training for 45 mins

    Not only does exercise does wonderful things for your general health, but to me the greatest benefit is the impact it has my family. My 5 Year old and 8 Year old understand what healthy lifestyle is, they tell me they can't wait to grow older so they can join me. My wife is also seeing a lot of these benfits too.

    Another great discovery for me was before I took on this exercise routing, if I felt tired and lack energy I just get some rest. Now, I do the opposite – Aeorbic exercise, and it renergizes me physically and mentally like never before. Exercise for me right now is second nature I don't even think about it, just like when you brush your teeth before going to bed. I hope I can continue this routine well into my 50's but I'm sure I'll slow down in my 60's and definitley 70's.

    Most people I talk to think this is very extreme but it does not have to be that extreme to reap the benefits. You just have to try it and stick to it to believe it. It's a chore in the begining and after a few weeks, you'll find yourself driven to it without even realizing it.


    April 10, 2008 at 14:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Chris L

    I've just ordered the book and CD.

    April 10, 2008 at 14:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Melissa

    I had no idea increased upper body strength did so much. Now I'll have to incorporate more weights into my cardio training.

    I think we can become biologically younger by eating natural foods i.e. food as close to its natural state as possible. That means no more processed food that has a long shelf life.

    April 10, 2008 at 15:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Priti

    It's absolutely true, exercise does your body good. But, let's not forget the eating habits. Eating fresh foods and staying away from packaged, processed, easily accesible foods(on the shelf) surely does well for your body. Ever wonder how our ancestors who actually cooked fresh foods instead of relying so much on ready-made, frozen, microwaveable foods lived healthier than we do now ?? Are we getting lazy or just using our busy lifestyles as excuses ??? Hmmm......

    April 10, 2008 at 22:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Priti

    And what about "Aging is a state of mind" ? If there's a positive attitude and one feels young, one looks young too.

    April 10, 2008 at 22:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Kraig Rasool

    For me, being an attorney messenger at a large Law firm...I am constantly running around all day, back and forth to offices and to the courthouses.... I have always said that if you treat your body like some
    treat their cars, things would work fine...ie: Put good gas in and change the oil so to speak, keep it clean inside and out and your body will do the rest...Exercise is paramount in the aging process and everyday there is another chance to get up, get out and get moving.....

    Kraig Rasool
    Ft Washington Md

    April 11, 2008 at 10:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Nikita

    I have been an avid exerciser since the age of 19, I have been lifting weights and engaging in vigorous aerobic activity. I look 10-12 yrs. younger both physically and facially.. exercise is the way to go.......

    April 11, 2008 at 11:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Donna Gold

    While I enjoyed the program today I am perplexed as to why women's health is hardly ever discussed when it comes to longevity.

    Please advise.

    April 12, 2008 at 10:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Brian Brandt

    My mother is a Neopolitan. At 60, she looks about 45. I am 37 and people take me for 27. If you want to stay young, eat as they eat on the Mediterranean coast. People think that topical solutions rule anti-aging. The truth is that your skin reflects what you consume. Dry and itchy skin is prone to wrinkling. First press extra virgin olive oil goes to your skin like no creams can. Shampoo with nutrients? How is your hair absorbing trace amounts of processed minerals? Eat something good instead. Like sweets? Those (the sugar) promote skin aging, too. But it isn't all about the face. A lot of foods come with a nice face, but they should come in their own wrapper (fruits and vegetables) instead, so as to maintain the nutrients that nature delivers in a way where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. (Think phytochemicals!) Processing takes away that magic.

    Staying young involves eating magical foods like bananas and berries, and using your body - no matter how. The people of Sardinia (It.) say that you won't die so long as you keep moving. They have the diet that most resembles the ideal Mediterranean diet, they use their bodies to get from place to place and to work, and they have the lowest smoking rate (virtually zero) in the world.

    Most of all, all of the factors combine to an exponential affect of overall internal and external youth. Diet and exercise feed off of one another. This increases positive mood and outlook. There are enough studies out there showing higher cancer survival rates in those with positive attitudes and outlooks.

    The bottom line is, happiness and youth and vigor do not come in a bottle. They come by picking the fruit off the vine, and by walking through the vineyard to get their. Hopefully at a steady clip, uphill.

    We are starting to see a scant amount of emerging research that may eventually prove some theories I have that remain untested. I'll leave it at this: I consume enough olive oli to gain 20 pounds a year, pounds that cannot be accounted for by my exercise alone. Where have those calories gone?

    Brian Brandt
    Boston, MA

    April 12, 2008 at 14:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Cecile Powell

    You asked on one of your show "what is the one thing people can do to improve their health.
    In my opinion it is to drink more water. Most people don't drink enough
    Thank you

    April 12, 2008 at 17:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. John Hutchinson

    Hello Dr. Gupta... It seems that even a lot of our fruits and vegetables do not have the nutritionak value they may have once had. The use of chemicals to contorl and manage farming, not to mention the envionmental pollutants that create havoc to the intracellular world.

    There is a doctor in Florida with a compositional patent of his formula that actually accelerates the production of GSH (glutathione) in the cells by combining the significant precursors to create the tripeptide. This cleans and empowers the cells to function much more toward an optimal level, thus slowing or retarding the agin processs.

    As I'm sure you are well aware, the aging process can be accelerated along with disease processes by lower levels of GSH which happen over our lifetime. By putting a surge into the GSH production, he has found it significantly improve the quality of their lives. He works with HIV/Aids, Cancer, Hepatitis, CFS, and othr patients and is board certified in immunology, hematology and also oncology.

    I'm sure he would be open to talking with you about his research and the HIV drug he is working on as well. I would be happy to send you more information about Dr. Keller and the supplement he has formulated called MaxGXL. It has changed my life. You can also see it at the HearTheDoc website or the ForMaxHealth website.

    I think you will appreciate his work, integrity, and mission to alleviate suffering and the unnecessary acceleration of aging. I believe he is also working with catalase as part of a new supplement as well which deals with longevity and has already produced amazing laboratory results...

    Thanks, Dr. G, for your timely and informative reporting style ... John Hutchinson, Lancaster County, PA

    April 13, 2008 at 02:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Daniel

    I ate a lot of natural fruits and vegetables, but I still had occasional problems of constipation even if I used high fiber cereals. However, this problem has disappeared since I took up regular exercise in brisk walking on the treadmill two years ago. Someone gave me a theory that my body basic metabolic rate is low and the exercise helps with regular bowl movement.

    April 13, 2008 at 12:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Stephen

    Exercise based family vacations are also a great way to maintain fitness . Hiking, biking skiing and camping vacations are great ways to live healthy and get a change of venue.

    I just spent a week in florida, playing tennis, biking thru state parks, (saw four manatees up close) and swimming in the ocean and pool made all the difference. Never take a vacation that precludes regular exercise outdoors!

    April 13, 2008 at 18:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. bryan

    There is no better anti-depressant than hard exercise as well...it can change your mood, alter your perspective within a mere half an hour. And looking at every day as another chance to embrace the deep breath is a wise attitude.

    April 13, 2008 at 22:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. joelle

    A body dammaged by STRESS is something that NEVER "science"will be abble to repare.It is said that (here in Europe)peolpe will live longer(and they wonder how they will pay retirement).
    People today living older are those who had no stress compare to the generations born in 50's to NOW!
    I' m 48 and had a stressy and nervous life.I am sure that I won't live over 70.How many people do I know that died (heart,cancer),under the age of 60 !!!!
    A study could show that A LOT of people die before to get old like those born in the years 20-50.
    A lot of KIDS are stressed (making a study about autism,I was supprised to see that they are A LOT of kids with problem) and those will not make old bones ,beleive me.
    Excess in everything is not good even in exercise!!

    April 14, 2008 at 07:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. maureen

    I watch morning fitness religiously since 2004.It is usually a 30 minute combination of light work out,yoga,and good healthy eating and thinking advice.Whenever I finished I would feel energized and ready to face the world.I would have to say , as 32 , I get a lot of " a decade younger" mistake guess on my age.I will definitely keep it up!

    April 14, 2008 at 10:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Rob

    Congratulations for presenting a topic that applies equally to both genders. When it comes to taking care of our health, there really is no room for an agenda. As you indicate, upper-body training is important for both men and women.

    April 14, 2008 at 13:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Chris L

    What about breathing deeper? Myself, I find it hard to do. I have small signs all over of residence saying "breath", but I forget they're there. The way the theory goes is our usual breathing gives use only about a cup of air. If you breath slowly and deeper you get more oxygen to the blood! The trick is how to improve the breathing mechanism. I guess I'll try again.

    April 15, 2008 at 09:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Nadia M

    Question on oxygen intake: does surgical repair of a deviated septum (on one side my breathing is blocked) work? A few doctors have cautioned me about it, and said sometimes it improves one's breathing, but not always. I was surprised to hear them say that. I have read that reduced oxygen intake / lung capacity as one gets older is one of the major reasons the body ages after 70. I am 60 so I need to get going! Thanks

    April 15, 2008 at 21:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Mani

    How about laughter therapy. It is real!, Combined with deep breathing and laughter, I am seeing improvement in my health and attitude.

    April 16, 2008 at 09:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. joelle

    About breathing :stress and nervosity make deep breathing hard.
    Something else : excess of vitamins?not good

    April 17, 2008 at 04:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Anne Kioschos

    I started walking in order to have some time to myself in the midst of raising 4 teenagers. I could barely do it, but I kept it up and was soon in my own personal element speed walking. My husband called me his "road runner". A U of Iowa football coach lived in our area and he used to tell his players about my dedication and skill. Now almost 30 years later I was still at it. My husband is now in his 44th year of parkinson's disease so I don't like to leave his side, I am now doing pushups and weights at home and I am in better physical shape that ever. It is extremely helpful as I can manage moving and transferring my husband better than I could have before. A life of fit living makes a big difference in mental and physical health.

    April 21, 2008 at 08:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Proxacine

    Hi, this is an informative post. Medicines are now became the part of human life. People are getting ill and loose their youth by different diseases. These people have to take medicines on a daily basis for their entire life. Since Proxacine can be taken along with other medicines, it will come as a welcome relief for many. Proxacine is the doctor-developed natural formula that can nutritionally help you keep your youthful vigor.

    July 8, 2010 at 05:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Proxacine

    Hi, this is an informative post. Medicines are now became the part of human life. People are getting ill and loose their youth by different diseases. These people have to take medicines on a daily basis for their entire life. Since Proxacine can be taken along with other medicines, it will come as a welcome relief for many. Proxacine is the doctor-developed natural formula that can nutritionally help you keep your youthful vigor.

    July 8, 2010 at 05:55 | Report abuse | Reply
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    Check this http://ehowsolutions.blogspot.com/2011/12/how-to-remain-younger.html to know HOW TO REMAIN YOUNGER

    December 18, 2011 at 09:47 | Report abuse | Reply
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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.