How Old is Your Body

New research suggests that your body parts age at different rates. The good news: Exercise turns back the clock.

We’ve all heard of the marathoner with the heart of a nineteen-year-old, or the yogi whose backside seems to be decades behind the rest of her. But is there any truth to these statements? Maybe so.

According to a recent study out of UCLA, certain tissues and organs do age at different rates than others. Healthy breast tissue, for example, was found to be about two or three years older than the rest of a woman’s body, while heart tissue appeared to be, on average, about nine years younger than everything else.

Although the exact cause for these variations is still unknown (essentially, it’s in our DNA), there are research-proven ways to help keep your body as young, vibrant and healthy as possible.

Fauja – the world’s oldest marathon runner

“We’re dealt a certain genetic hand, but what we do over the course of our lives can modify that,” says Equinox Advisory Board member Thomas Storer, Ph.D., director of the exercise physiology laboratory at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. Here’s how to help physically turn back the clock on all your different parts.

Heart and Lungs

Master athletes who continue training as they get older lose their cardiovascular fitness at about half the rate of their couch potato peers, says research published in the Journal of Applied PhysiologyAnother study, published in the journal Circulation, revealed that six months of endurance training reversed any and all age-related declines in aerobic power that study participants (men in their 50s) had experienced.

“You need to stay active to keep everything working properly, but you also need to build in plenty of recovery time,” says Equinox Advisory Board member Justin Mager, M.D., an exercise physiologist and internist in Mill Valley, California. “Your heart actually works 1/3 of the time, and the other 2/3, it’s recovering for the next beat. Similarly, it’s very important to give your body time to adapt to change and stress.” 

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