IS THE GYM YOUR BEST ANTI – AGEING DRUG?
There are all sorts of anti aging supplements, skin lotions, potions and dietary products on the market today. The choices are overwhelming and make it easy to forget that the body has it’s own anti aging capacities (mostly in the form of hormones) which unfortunately are too often overlooked in the age of instant gratification and our pursuit of quick fixes.
The body naturally produces human growth hormone (HGH) which is the most powerful anabolic substance the body creates and is responsible for cell growth and regeneration (yes, this is why athletes take it for performance!). Anabolic refers to synthesizing or the ‘building up’ of muscle versus catabolic which refers to ‘breaking down’. Aside from HGH’s crucial role in building muscle and improving skin texture (yes fewer wrinkles!) not all of its benefits are cosmetically evident. HGH has been shown to slow the progression of age-related degenerative diseases, increasing sex drive, helping to maintain mental acuity, enhancing the immune system as well as promoting a general sense of well-being.
Happily the HGH news only get better – the two major factors that contribute to increased HGH levels aren’t expensive drugs or potions and are governed by you, these are: weight training and sleep. Not that aerobic activity needs to be eradicated but it doesn’t have the same HGH boosting benefits that weight training does. Be mindful though before grabbing your gym bag and heading out the door as not all exercises are sufficient at producing HGH. Compound exercises (exercises that use more than one muscle group such as back squats or Olympic lifting) have a much greater effect on boosting HGH levels than isolated single muscle exercises (like bicep or hamstring curls) due to higher muscle recruitment and nervous system activation which elicits a greater hormone response and thus resulting in an increase in beneficial HGH.
Rest is to often repeatedly over looked in our health plans. We assume we are growing muscle, getting leaner and healthier while we are working out, but HGH and other hormones involved in muscle and tissue repair are secreted while you sleep, and studies have shown a spike in HGH levels at the onset of deep sleep. Mid afternoon siestas can also contribute to boosting HGH levels (as well as other benefits such as a mental reboot and distress). When we don’t get enough rest the beneficial effects of HGH which you are working so hard in the gym to produce are blunted, leading to inadequate recovery and limited muscle growth and repair. So start thinking of the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep per night as being essential to your anti aging routine rather than skimp on sleep and investing in expensive creams which simply can’t replace a lack of rest.
So remember, compound exercises (multiple muscle and multiple joint) exercises in the gym and the next time someone says to get your beauty rest – take them seriously (aka don’t stay up into the wee hours binge watching Netflix!)
Kylie Edwards has more than 15 years experience as a fitness professional. Completing a double masters (physiology and nutritional sciences) degree in San Diego, her breadth of experience includes working with patients at San Diego Sports Medicine and Cardiac Rehab, teaching students and faculty wellness group classes at University of California San Diego as well as a coaching running and teaching the fitness specialist program at the San Diego City College fitness facility.
M.S in Physiology and Nutritional Sciences
CHEK Institute holistic lifestyle coach
Balanced Body University Pilates Instructor
National Council of Strength and Fitness Certified Personal Trainer
TRX Suspension Instructor Training
USA Track and Field Level One Coach
AGATSU Kettlebell Instructor Certification
Body Balance University Pilates Mat Instructor
American College of Sports Medicine Certified Health and Fitness Instructor
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