What? Ok, ok settle down.
The idea of a "fountain of youth" has persisted throughout history and has been a topic of interest for many explorers, scientists, and philosophers. In the 16th century, Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León famously searched for the fountain of youth in what is now Florida, although it is not clear whether he was actually seeking a physical fountain or was simply searching for new lands and resources!
Nowadays the concept of a fountain of youth has been debunked as a myth, but ongoing research on the aging process is yielding exciting results! The hormones estrogen, testosterone and human growth hormone have been identified as key players. Estrogen and testosterone are part of the sex-hormone family, and since my 8 Weeks 8 Habits Program focuses on non-reproductive hormones, I will only discuss HGH. Note that when I say HGH I'm referring to exercise induced HGH, not synthetic HGH which is being widely used by many people desperate to stay young and/or "turn back time". For the sake of knowledge
let's look at some of the potential risks associated with synthetic HGH:
Diabetes: HGH can cause an increase in blood sugar levels, which may lead to the development of diabetes or worsening of existing diabetes.
Cardiovascular disease: HGH can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease by promoting insulin resistance, high blood pressure, and other metabolic changes.
Joint pain: HGH can cause joint pain and stiffness, particularly in the hands and feet.
Acromegaly: Long-term use of HGH can cause acromegaly, a condition characterized by overgrowth of bone and soft tissue, leading to disfigurement and health problems.
Carpal tunnel syndrome: HGH can increase the risk of carpal tunnel syndrome, a condition that causes pain, tingling, and numbness in the hands and wrists.
Cancer: There is some concern that long-term use of HGH may increase the risk of certain types of cancer, although the evidence is not conclusive.
The great news is that exercise induced HGH has none of these side effects - all of the good, none of the bad! It's produced by your own body and your body will always work to protect and preserve itself. Here's how it goes. I'll try to keep it as non=sciencey as possible.
HGH is produced by the pituitary gland and is involved in a range of metabolic functions. HGH levels tend to decrease as we age, which is a factor in metabolism decline, muscle loss, increased body fat, collagen reduction and decreased bone density. Good news! Certain types of exercise as well as fasting, stimulate the production of HGH in the body, helping to counteract this decline. In fact there is a certain exercise protocol (hmmm?) that's been shown to increase HGH naturally by up to 800%! Of course this is a temporary spike. Over time, with consistency, HGH levels will be elevated from previous levels and that's when the magic begins to happen.
Studies have shown that exercise-induced HGH secretion can have major benefits for aging individuals, including increased muscle mass and strength, improved bone density and reduced body fat. HGH has also been shown to have anti-aging effects on the *skin, improving elasticity and reducing the appearance of wrinkles. In addition to its physical effects, HGH has also been linked to improvements in cognitive function, mood, and overall quality of life in older adults.
It's important to note that sleep also impacts HGH levels positively, while stress has the opposite effect.
What kind of exercise are we talking about?
High-intensity interval training (HIIT) has been shown to be one of the most effective forms of exercise for increasing HGH levels. This type of exercise involves short bursts of high-intensity activity followed by periods of rest or lower-intensity exercise. Examples of HIIT exercises include sprinting, cycling, or certain bodyweight exercises that require significant effort and levels of exertion (like burpees, lunge jumps etc.). I think we're talking about SPRINT!!!
Resistance training, such as weightlifting or demanding bodyweight strength exercises (eg. pushups), is also effective in stimulating HGH production. Stacking strength training onto the back of a SPRINT session has been proven to be particularly effective in generating HGH and reaping its rewards.
What other things can we be doing to slow down the aging process?
Obviously there are many other factors at play in the aging process. Nourishment, hydration, adequate sleep, stress management, skin care and certain behaviours (such as smoking, consuming alcohol and using drugs) are all implicated. I could add so much to this list. Certainly keeping your brain stimulated and including activities that make you happy are also all part of positive age management. This sounds a little familiar.
To be fair, eight weeks is a short amount of time to address all of the habits associated the above but it's a start, the beginning of the rest of your life. How do you wish to live it? Will it be a continuation of the same "old" or is it time for a change, a DAY ONE? :)
*Research has shown that HGH can stimulate the production of collagen in the skin, leading to improved skin quality and a reduction in the appearance of wrinkles and other signs of aging. HGH can also help to improve skin thickness, elasticity, and hydration.