Recent Research into the Interaction of Exercise and Aging

Today's open access papers touch on aspects of the interaction between exercise and the pace of aging. People age at somewhat different rates, and for the vast majority of us lifestyle is a far greater determinant of that rate than our genes. Until such time as the clinical deployment of rejuvenation therapies is well underway, and in regions of the world sufficiently wealthy to have tamed the majority of infectious disease, it remains the case that our choices regarding our health, such as calorie restriction and exercise, are the most reliable means of improving life expectancy. The size of the effect is not enormous in the grand scheme of things: three quarters of slim, fit, well-considered people die before reaching 90 years of age, after all. You cannot add decades to your life by making incrementally better lifestyle choices.

So why bother? Well, firstly because being increasingly sick for a span of decades at the end of life is a real drag, and exercise and calorie restriction do make a sizable difference to the odds of avoiding much of that fate. But more importantly this is an era of radical, accelerating progress in the life sciences. With every passing year we move closer towards the deployment of real, working rejuvenation therapies. Some of the the first of those, senolytic treatments to clear senescent cells, can already be used by the adventurous. The times are changing rapidly when it comes to medical science. A few years of life gained through exercise, or achieving an extra decade of being fit enough to travel to try new therapies via medical tourism, may well make the difference between considerable benefits and a longer life, or missing out on that chance.

If exercise was incredibly expensive, or if exercise to improve health was only possible at the end of a multi-billion investment in medical research and development, then it wouldn't be worth it. That is the same story as for many lines of development that aim to modestly slow the aging process, those based on replicating calorie restriction, for example. Such treatments will be expensive to create, and the past twenty years tells us that this process has a high rate of failure. It just isn't worth it when other lines of rejuvenation research have far greater expected outcomes in terms of health gained and years added. But exercise is here now, free, and highly reliable. Modest gains achieved at little cost, and that near always work as intended, are not to be ignored. It helps.

The Inherent Human Aging Process and the Facilitating Role of Exercise

Arguably the best available depictions of the global physiological changes produced by age are the profiles of world record performance times in swimming, athletics, and cycling, depicting the trajectory of decline in maximal integrated physiological performance capability. The curves suggest that the aging process produces a synchronized, controlled decrease in physiological performance over the human lifespan. The shape of the performance profile by age is essentially independent of discipline, distance, or phenotype. Importantly, the specific times of performance are not the driving force in the production of the shape of the declining performance profile.

We suggest that in these highly trained individuals the shape of the curve is generated by the aging process operating on a physiology optimized for any given age. We hypothesize that with adequate training this same profile and trajectory, but with lower performance times, would be generated by all individuals who engage in sufficient physical activity/exercise. Unlike performance, data obtained from examining individual physiological systems or tissues do not give information on the unceasing and changing global integrating functions of the aging process. However, these data do give valuable information about the integrity of physiological systems at a particular age and allow a direct comparison to be made between the effects of inactivity and physical activity/exercise.

Being physically active has been shown to have global protective effects on physiological systems and thus facilitates the aging process by maintaining physiological integrity. There is emerging evidence which suggests that physiological regulation of aging may be multi-compartmentalized. We do not advocate exercise as a panacea, but all the evidence indicates that being physically active and exercising is far superior to any other alternative for achieving optimal aging.

Effects of Acute and Chronic Exercise on Immunological Parameters in the Elderly Aged: Can Physical Activity Counteract the Effects of Aging?

Immunosenescence is characterized by deterioration of the immune system caused by aging which induces changes to innate and adaptive immunity. Immunosenescence affects function and phenotype of immune cells, such as expression and function of receptors for immune cells which contributes to loss of immune function (chemotaxis, intracellular killing). Moreover, these alterations decrease the response to pathogens, which leads to several age-related diseases including cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer's disease, and diabetes in older individuals. Furthermore, increased risk of autoimmune disease and chronic infection is increased with an aging immune system, which is characterized by a pro-inflammatory environment, ultimately leading to accelerated biological aging.

During the last century, sedentarism rose dramatically, with a concomitant increase in certain type of cancers (such as breast cancer, colon, or prostate cancer), and autoimmune disease. Numerous studies on physical activity and immunity, with focus on special populations (i.e., people with diabetes, HIV patients) demonstrate that chronic exercise enhances immunity. However, the majority of previous work has focused on either a pathological population or healthy young adults whilst research in elderly populations is scarce. Research conducted to date has primarily focused on aerobic and resistance exercise training and its effect on immunity. This review focuses on the potential for exercise training to affect the aging immune system. The concept is that some lifestyle strategies such as high-intensity exercise training may prevent disease through the attenuation of immunosenescence.


I like to think my lifestyle isn't sedentary, because I'm not sitting but sleeping/lying most of my day. I feel my body is in a kind of permanent stasis somewhat like science-fiction because of my chronic fatigue resulting from SBS. I sleep 16 per day whenever I can, and ober the last 5 years I have noticed that look not a single bit elder. I am still in my 20s, but I look like just 18 or younger. This is motivating, but it does not negate my worries. If a human spends most of his life sleeping or being in a kind of stasis where he uses little to no energy, can this human being live longer, or what are his survival chances in the long-term as compared to the general population? My instinct is that sleeping so much increases mortality, but my body needs so much sleep and I feel always refreshed after 14-16 hours of daily sleep.

Posted by: Purely Biological at November 2nd, 2018 9:30 PM

@Purely Biological, IMO, you may want to check with a sleeping specialist. They say "normal" healthy hours for sleeping is between 7-9. It may even possible you have a deficit vitamin, though I could easily be wrong. But, 14-16 hours seems way off from the norms. The good thing is, you are still very young, for now.

Additionally, it would be very difficult getting anything done with only 8 hours of wake time.

Posted by: Robert at November 2nd, 2018 10:36 PM

Two reasons to exercise and to have strong bones and muscle:

1) The weaker you are, there is more chance you will die from some accident.
2) Stronger your body is better it will take the first gen therapies.

Posted by: RS at November 3rd, 2018 6:54 AM

Hi Robert,

Thank you for your input. I have already been looking into vitamin deficiencies these years. The big problem in the Netherlands is that the doctors/labs take the international minimum values as normal reference values and for that reason, my lab results are always "normal". The problem, however, is that I keep having symptoms that point to my various vitamin/mineral levels being too low. But I need solid proof of deficiences according to the low Dutch standards, otherwise I cannot afford the supplements while I get no compensation from the insurance/government. I have no job nor did I finish education since I have been sick for years, and for that reason I have no money. I am living off the minimum income in the Netherlands and I can barely affors my daily life. That is why it is really upsetting that the Dutch healthcare system is so hostile to my condition. I have considered trying to get my vitamin/mineral levels below the Dutch "normal" but I think that is playing with my life and so I'm just trying to use EU rules to get treatment in other EU countries. However, I have also stumbled upon problems with that since Dutch doctors are not willing to give me the reference I need for getting treatment abroad. So, I an esswntially a captive of the Dutch healthcare system, I cannot get a job to pay for my own medical treatments and I cannot go abroad either. It is a depressing situation with my condition because I do not have the energy to fight, so I am trying to read lots of info on blogs like these in order to find practical things I can use for improving my health. I'm willing to try anything to get better, but my doctors here aren't willing to help and just tell me "deal with it, you won't get better". I just cannot accept that, I think that my sleep can improve. I would love to try all vitamins and minerals out there if only the government/insurance paid for it, it would be crazy if I took the little money I have from my minimum income to pay for supplements instead of daily food...I need to eat also and I can't skip that, otherwise my body will really get in a terrible shape soon. I need healthy diet and I need supplements. I have been trying to ask other people to buy supplements for me, it works sometimes but I hate begging. I just want to pay for it myself......It's really hard to survive on your own when you have a rare disease and no one helps you, you need to beg for help and everyone will treat you with scorn. This is the sad reality today in the medical community, it is all about profit and they couldn't care less if someone like me died because they see me as a helpess liability.

Posted by: Purely Biological at November 3rd, 2018 3:11 PM

And also, having a higher muscle mass alone prevents injuries (if you don't engage in riskier behavior for to being the muscle guy) and gives better support for the internal organs.

@Purely Biological
I suggest you try intermittent fasting or flavonoids supplements to reduce the SBS related inflammation. However, YMMV... For me it works better than , say NAD+, which didn't work at all.

Posted by: Cuberat at November 3rd, 2018 3:19 PM

@Purely Biological
I didn't see your last post. It is unfortunate and being so sick always brings terrible financial outcomes. It seems you are handicapped, which in socially oriented countries like Holland might make your eligible for extra benefits. Intermittent fasting doesn't require extras funds

Posted by: Cuberat at November 3rd, 2018 4:21 PM

Hi Cuberat,

Thank you so much for the valuable suggestions.
So that means (a) I should increase my muscle mass without getting injuries, (b) flavanoids supplements or intermittent fasting to reduce inflammation.
I have a practical question: What kind of flavonoids supplements would you suggest knowing that I have SBS?
I am admittedly in a very bad financial situation and the Dutch beaucracy makes it practically impossible for me to get adequate treatment, because of "rules". My rare disease makes it really a bureaucratic nightmare to get social benefits such that I can function properly in society again.
My current strategy to get out of my financial misery is to engage in my own charitable projects for the preservation of minority tongues. It is a comforting thought to know that lots of people count on me and really need my ideas for these charitable projects, so I truly need to get better.
I used to be very good at languages before I got a sudden intestine surgery in 2013 which left me with SBS which doctors didn't recognise or flat denied for years and ignored/refused to treat. The situation got really bad towards the end of 2017 and the beginning of 2018, but it has been stabilised since the spring of 2018. I really had to survive last winter and I do not want to get in that situation again.
It turned out that if I had died at that time, it would have been a disaster for the people around me because I do a lot of charity despite my disabilities and I have lots of ideas about how we can solve certain practical problems in the world.
This also makes me very motivated to find a way to live, while I am also trying to use the charitable projects to raise attention to SBS and my own situation where I receive no treatment despite my obvious medical needs. The Netherlands isn't at all so generous as people inside and outside the Netherlands think, reality is different for people with rare diseases because they do often not receive treatment despite being handicapped.
I have a will to survive and for this reason I am trying everything in order to succeed. I have been like this for the last 5 years and it has been hard sometimes. I am really grateful to everyone in the anti-aging community when they offer me some of their own advice, because it can really save my life. It means the world to me, and I hope to make more contributions to SENS and the anti-aging community at large when I get somewhat better and have more energy, I need to work on my own health first before I can make bigger contributions to the anti-aging cause. I have already saved 3 critically endangered languaegs, and if I can save languages, I can also use my linguistic insights and my communicative skills to persuade people about the need for anti-aging science, more donations to SENS and like organisations, etc. I know that I can make positive contributions, but I am literally being held down by the Dutch healthcare system and so I am doing my best to be my own doctor in order to improve my health condition.

Posted by: Purely Biological at November 4th, 2018 5:42 AM

@Purely Biological
You have to take my suggestions with a grain of salt. After all, taking advises from some random dude across the pond, who doesn't have a medical degree comes with caveats. I am not very familiar with the short bladder syndrome ( if I decide the abbreviation correctly). It seems that you are in a permanent state of malnourishment, and alas, that would require an expensive diet and follow-ups. If your vitamins are within the normal range, albeit at the lower end, you don't have a real deficiency. However, it seems you have chronic imbalances. Since you are young and not overweight, senolitics are unlikely to help you. Did you mean a diary advisor to help you compose a dirt to compensate for your condition? Fasting and intermittent fasting help to suppress, at least temporary many chronic inflammatory conditions. However, you have to be careful if your BMI is below 18.

Ellagic acid seems to help( a bit), and it is not that expensive, since there recommended daily dose is small and it has very poor solubility, so taking more just makes your stool more expensive. But I would say that you have to start addressing the issue closer to the root cause. You cannot fix, without surgery, what was annoyed, but at least can find the most suitable for you.

Posted by: Cuberat at November 4th, 2018 11:47 AM
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