Sun | May 1, 2016

Exercise and age slowly

Published:Tuesday | January 22, 2013 | 12:00 AM

EXERCISE CAN become your anti-aging medicine. The science of exercise has evolved greatly, and we now know a lot more about how exercise creates health benefits, especially the effects of exercise on our hormones and the aging process.

As you pass age 30, your levels of an important hormone called human growth hormone (HGH) begin to fall dramatically. This is part of what influences the process of aging. Almost everyone over 30 has low levels of this important hormone as our lifestyle becomes increasingly more sedentary.

The higher your levels of HGH, the healthier and stronger you are going to be and the longer you will enjoy robust health and strength. Kids and most wild animals do not run in long races or lift weights. They run around at high speeds in short bursts and then rest. This is naturally what optimises the production of HGH and the basis of the exercise programme shared below.

Peak 8 fitness

New research shows how we can exercise more efficiently to get the best results and increase production of HGH. Peak 8 Fitness is an exercise strategy called interval training and is a term used by health expert Dr Joe Mercola. It describes an exercise programme that can replace or complement typical aerobic training. These peak exercises are performed twice a week in addition to whatever activity you normally do.

It involves a series of eight bursts or cycles in which you raise your heart rate up to your threshold for 30 seconds, and then you recover for 90 seconds. You would repeat this cycle for a total of eight repetitions.

These cycles are preceded by a three-minute warm up and a two- minute cool-down, so the total time required is about 20 minutes. This approach is far more effective than traditional cardio, and you can incorporate it into almost any type of exercise routine.

The type and intensity of exercise is your choice and may be as simple as fast walking alternating with slow walking. If you have access to a treadmill or bike, you can use them, but the options are almost limitless. The key is to push your heart rate into that training zone for 30 seconds and then recover slowly for 90 seconds. It is called 'peak fitness' because you push yourself to a peak eight times during the workout.

Scientists confirm that peak fitness naturally increases your levels of HGH, the hormone that some professional athletes inject illegally to improve their performance. Peak fitness exercises do it naturally without the expense or side effects. Dr Marcela explains that your muscles have three different types of muscle fibres: slow, fast, and superfast. Only the use of the superfast muscle fibres will increase your production of HGH.

Usually, most people exercise using only their slow-muscle fibres. In fact, the usual aerobic cardio workout or strength training will only work your slow muscles. Power training will engage the fast muscles. The superfast ones are what you use when you do short bursts of intense exercise. They are 10 times faster than slow fibres, and this is the key to producing growth hormone.

Performing Peak 8

You can do this with any type of exercise. Access to gym or exercise equipment will provide you with more variety and options. You can easily perform this by walking or running on flat ground. In a typical peak fitness routine:

Exercise as hard and fast as you can for 30 seconds. You should feel like you can't possibly go any longer.

Recover for 90 seconds and repeat the high-intensity exercise and recovery seven more times.

Be aware of your fitness level and do not overdo it when you first start out. If you are not fit, you may start with a few cycles and work your way up to eight. You may start with just walking, doing your 30-second bursts as fast as possible with your arms pumping hard and fast. You need to exercise vigorously enough to trigger growth hormone release.

When that happens, you should then experience shortness of breath, profuse sweating, a burning sensation in the muscles, and elevation of body temperature, usually after the second or third cycle. An added benefit is that you can cut your cardio workout down to 20 minutes with only four minutes of high-speed work.

Important lifestyle factors

To maximise exercise benefits get good-quality sleep, drink lots of water, and optimise your vitamin D levels with lots of sunshine. Eat optimal quantities of high-quality protein and avoid high-fat foods and sugar, especially after exercising.

I use a protein shake drink within 45 minutes of exercising and I suggest supplementing with a high-quality multivitaminmineral supplement and the omega 3 fatty acids.

Benefits of peak fitness exercises

Most people who regularly do these 20-minute exercises about twice a week notice the following benefits:

Lower body fat and greatly improved muscle tone with firmer skin and reduced wrinkles;

Increased energy and sexual desire; improved fitness, speed, and athletic performance.

You may email Dr Tony Vendryes at or listen to 'An Ounce of Prevention' on POWER 106FM on Fridays at 8 p.m. His new book 'An Ounce of Prevention, Especially for Women' is available locally and on the Internet.