Fitness school, question 39: Telomeres, the fancy sounding tail that connects healthy fit aging with fitness activities. Dive right in as we take a look at recent studies.



Fitness School
Do you know the right answer?.



Question number 39 in our School of Fitness.
I have talked about telomeres in years past, and fitness too obviously :).
But such is the world of fitness, science, and health, it often revisits old "truths" and sometimes upends them because our knowledge has deepened, while new studies at other times will simply fortify and acknowledge what we already knew to be true.
So what will happen today as we travel back to the world of that peachy sounding telomeres thingy that keeps wiggling its cute little tail inside of us? Let us find out.
My Question:.
For this particular study, published in European Heart Journal, Nov 2018, we´ll uncover what happens to the length of our telomeres when we do long distance endurance training, high-intensity sprint intervals, nothing at all or lift weights in a so-so way in the gym ( yeah, color me unimpressed by the strength plan in this study, but hold on to that thought as you read on because I will get back to the fairly inadequate strength training and why that too matters. ).
The question, which option is the best for maintaining the length of our telomeres and what is the worst?.






















2050AD.
The developed world
[ Oceans run the risk of having more total weight of plastic than fish.]











Make up your mind, and once you have made your pick click the "And the Correct Answer is" label down below to reveal the right one.

1.
Doing absolutely nothing is for obvious reasons the absolutely worst choice, not just for the length of our telomeres and our biological aging, but our health in general from top to bottom in body and mind suffer much more. And on the other end of the spectrum, previous science have made it pretty clear that as far as the length of our telomeres goes, endurance training and high-intensity intervals remain a better choice than lifting weights in the gym, and this study doesn't change this scientific fact.
2.
Whatever way you challenge yourself will strengthen your health and the length of your telomeres equally good.
3.
Nothing we do can maintain or replenish the length of our telomeres.


Option 1 is the correct answer.

So before we dive into my thoughts on the lackluster strength regimen of this study, let us get this out of the way.
Cardio is a much better tool for maintained and improved telomeres health and function. That tiny little tail at the end of our cells is rejuvenated and maintained much better by long-lasting endurance training or high-intensity intervals. And exactly why is it good to fortify the longevity and capacity of our telomeres? Because the cellular tail that is the telomeres divides itself as we age, and when any given cell inside of us runs out of length on its tail ( the telomeres ), that cell will cease to live and operate. And thus, causing us to age just a little bit more in the bigger picture.







Doing cardio every single week maintains the length and health of our telomeres, which in turns means that the individual cells themselves can function properly for a much much longer time. Hence giving us a physical way to maintain a healthier body for a much longer time.








This, of course, is one of many reasons why you should not listen to fitness pros that tell you to avoid all forms of cardio when you lift weights (unless your own health and longevity is of no priority to you, and absolutely maximizing lean muscle mass with a few gram extra per year is all you care about, because that unhealthy approach to fitness could be true in that case. Although truth is, you have to do a shitload of cardio and in the wrong way to prevent yourself from getting stronger and more muscular due to cardio. So just don't skip your cardio, do it regularly and do it the smart way) .







Weekly weights and cardio is together the holy grail of lifelong health and maintained biological youth. And no one should do without the other.




But before I give you a quote from the study down below, I do have opinions on the lackluster strength plan in this study. No, not even a perfect gym plan would change that hiit cardio and or long distance cardio will have a better impact on the health and longevity of our telomeres. But that is no reason for scientific studies to make us of lackluster strength plans.

.
You see, running is always exhausting for your system, otherwise it's what we call a walk or a light jog.
And most people will achieve this exhausting and rejuvenating effect every single time they put on their shoes and start running. People simply put know to push it and exert themselves when they run. Its ingrained in us from our birth and people even have the perfect natural sprint step imbued in us.
But lifting weights?








That´s evolved to a strange world where most people that do lift weights on a regular basis never exhaust themselves in even a single set and rep. Choosing to prevent themselves from reaping the complete benefits of lifting weights. And they are sadly told to act so by quite a lot of health professionals, not to mention our sedentary society at large which tend to think that going to the gym and actually doing a proper deadlift in a challenging way is worse for your health than sitting still for 16 hours per day... In fact, in today's world, natural gym goers that train hard and proper are frowned upon by a lot of people that are seemingly going to the gym only to do a specific set of isolated motions without actually ever activating their targeted muscles in a meaningful way.








And that is bad for your fitness capacity and your overall health, because, if you settle for lifting your weights in a nonexhaustive way then it's not much better than doing a slow walk. Still healthy and good to do, but not even half as rejuvenating and beneficial for your health, and strength and lean muscle mass as that workout could have been. And a slow walk is a far cry from the benefits of a proper run.
So, why am I bringing this up?








First of all, this is simply how it looks like in the gym world, most people just don't train as hard as they could and should do. So in most weight lifting groups, most people will never exhaust themselves as much while they are lifting weights as they will when they are doing their cardio. Further, in this study, the strength lifting group made use of several exercises which should be classified as pretty much persona non grata for anyone that is serious about their training and not in rehab mode due to the low amount of muscle activation that they will trigger.








And the reason for that is simple, the lower amount of muscle activation the lower your health and fitness benefits in both long and short term.








Two major factors which when combined make the resistance based part of this study feel like a wasted opportunity.
Now, with that said, even the most challenging and perfect strength workout won't tax the telomeres the same way as a long distance endurance workout will. But a high intensity weight lifting workout will without a doubt trigger your telomeres much much better than what this study showcased. Not to mention that big and challenging exercises also tax your cardiovascular system and not just your skeletal muscles.
And especially so if you do it with a high intensity and a higher volume.








This is what I would have designed instead.
The first and immediate change which I would do is to replace two virtually meaningless exercises, leg extensions, and crunches. Because these two only have their place in specific use cases where you are forced to settle for very specific motions. Injuries and rehab/prehab, or people with disabilities come to mind.
In other words, leg extensions and crunches have very little place and purpose to exist in a healthy fit human beings fitness plan.
And certainly not in a scientific study such as this.









Another exercise which would have to go is the functionally sound, but limited in muscle activation and general physical response, back extensions. I´d swap this one out with deadlifts and farmers walk (sprint style) instead, exercises that work your entire core and much more and do so in a big impactful way, while also taxing both skeletal and cardiovascular system in a very intense and demanding way.








Leg press is a sound exercise for sure, but this study made use of healthy fit people so out with leg press and replace it with one of several squat versions instead. Because, just like with deadlift, squats will work more muscles and cause a much bigger physical response from both your skeletal and cardiovascular system than leg press ever will. And that physical response is what you are looking for in a scientific study like this, and your fitness training in general.







These are small but sound changes they would have made the impact of the 6-month strength training they did in this study much bigger and much more beneficial.








A final thing I would like to bring up is the intensity of the strength group.
Using a 20rm range to determine the proper work weights is a pretty dubious choice in my opinion.
Yes, 20 rep per set can be a wonderfully progressive hypertrophy and strength foundation, but only if we are talking about people that truly do go til failure in every 20rm set and do each rep with full on intensity during that 20rm set, I do my own squats like this. So it is a very viable way to look at strength and fitness training.
In fact, since I changed out my 5-10 rep range and started doing intense and gruesome 15 to 20 rep per set ( while still training in the same heavy weight range ). Well, each set is brutal to push through to say the least, but the physical response has been amazing. And when you stick to already heavy weights but slowly increase your rep range over time instead of gunning for slightly heavier 5 rm´s all of a sudden bad boys like deadlift and squats will push that cardio as well as your lean muscle mass and strength.
And another bonus is that your body recovers better and suffers less overload related injuries. Which too lead to better and more enjoyable health and fitness progression, after all, what good and fun is it to be super strong and fit if your joints and attachments and spine is in constant pain.










But honestly, very few in the gym train like this.
Because it makes each set as hard and gruesome as it is effective. As such, it is very easy to imagine that none of the people in the study pushed their fitness envelope in that way and instead cruised through their 20 reps per set workout, rendering their strength plan pretty ineffective. As such, it would have been far more beneficial as far as triggering a physical response from their strength plan if they had used slightly heavier weights and a more traditional 7 to 13rm range.









And while my minor changes would not have changed the conclusion, it is quite possible that my alterations to the resistance training would have caused a big enough physical response to telomerase and tl activity too, to also have been noted in the context of the study. Fitness science is a wonderful field, but sometimes some particular setups, such as the strength part of this study, just stick out as a little more than inadequate. And while I am very doubtful that my changes would have altered the conclusion it would at least have provided a much more meaningful and scientifically based strength training for the study and the participants to make their conclusions from.




The relevant study was published in the European Heart Journal, Oxford Academic. ehy585, https://doi.org/10.1093/eurheartj/ehy585, 28 November 2018 , and you can find the link down below.

Quote
"Endurance training and Interval training, but not resistance training, increased telomerase activity and TL which are important for cellular senescence, regenerative capacity, and thus, healthy aging.”
"Beneficial effects of physical activity on cellular regeneration and senescence have been observed.For example, long-term endurance training is associated with higher telomerase activity and a reduced rate of telomere attrition in young- and middle-aged endurance athletes compared with inactive people.Twins with a higher level of physical activity exhibit longer telomeres in middle age compared with inactive siblings.Moderate levels of physical activity may reduce telomere shortening by inducing a telomere-protective phenotype, indicating an important cellular adaptation that may prevent age-related diseases.".
Keep on grinding people, and stay healthy fit.






















Connect with me

in this life of ours scattered across this tiny sphere






Views from Earth by Mike Koontz
My photography and writing on G+

Beyond2c is a digital magazine with both nonfictional and fictional content
Beyond2c on Medium

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Available Nordic fine art photography by me.

My personal fav print, 'a norse summer song' at Printler, check it out and buy it today :).
Fine art print by Mike Koontz, Printler.com

Scandinavian.Fitness, My Swedish in depth article covering 'standing barbell row'.
Scandinavian.Fitness and standing barbell row, the complete picture by Mike

Related article, Study on fitness and telomeres from European heart journal.
European Heart Journal published study.



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Mike Koontz
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Last Few Published Books and Articles

  • Fitness school, question 39: Telomeres, the fancy sounding tail that connects healthy fit aging with fitness activities. Dive right in as we take a look at recent studies.

    Quality time needed: 13 minutes


    Fitness School
    Do you know the right answer?.



    Question number 39 in our School of Fitness.
    I have talked about telomeres in years past, and fitness too obviously :).
    But such is the world of fitness, science, and health, it often revisits old "truths" and sometimes upends them because our knowledge has deepened, while new studies at other times will simply fortify and acknowledge what we already knew to be true.
    So what will happen today as we travel back to the world of that peachy sounding telomeres thingy that keeps wiggling its cute little tail inside of us? Let us find out.
    My Question:.
    For this particular study, published in European Heart Journal, Nov 2018, we´ll uncover what happens to the length of our telomeres when we do long distance endurance training, high-intensity sprint intervals, nothing at all or lift weights in a so-so way in the gym ( yeah, color me unimpressed by the strength plan in this study, but hold on to that thought as you read on because I will get back to the fairly inadequate strength training and why that too matters. ).
    The question, which option is the best for maintaining the length of our telomeres and what is the worst?.

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    Do you know the right answer?.



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  • Fitness school, question 37: Can something as simple as a reduction of daily walking decrease our lean muscle mass in a noticeable way in just 2 weeks time?

    Quality time needed: 8 minutes


    Fitness School
    Do you know the right answer?.



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    Fitness School
    Do you know the right answer?.



    Question number 36 in our School of Fitness.
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    Question number 35 in our School of Fitness.
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  • Fitness School, Question 34, Is there a connection between weighted leg and glute training and your brain maintaining a healthy neurological cell production?

    Quality time needed: 4 minutes


    Fitness School
    Do you know the right answer?.



    Question number 34 in our School of Fitness.
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    Earth Hour.
    Is by now, our essential every day reality.



    On one hand, we are now living in the day and age of butterflies and endangered white rhinos hopefully being multiplied and preserved through soon to be commercial cloning facilities. finally making sure we will never have to lose another species to extinction.
    Putting an end to the way we lost the last surviving male Great Northern Rhino just the other day.


    And that lingering, hopeful road is walking hand in hand with this growing worldwide awareness that eating healthy, and being healthy is not just good for that one person, but transformative and good for everybody else too.
    Be it from a financial perspective or healthwise speaking.

  • Fitness School, Question 32, Can fitness reduce dementia risk with as much as 90% for a 50 year old female?

    Quality time needed: 5 minutes


    Fitness School
    Do you know the right answer?.



    Question number 32 in our School of Fitness.
    We all know that physical activity and healthy food is just that, life and body improving yum for muscles and mind alike.
    Some might claim they hate it, and others truly love keeping fit and healthy, enriching their daily life in endless supply.
    And you know it greatly reduces the risk of getting a long range of cancer forms, it helps arthritis patients, lower back pain, keeps you lean and hearty healthy.
    It fights off bad sleep and osteoporosis. Slow the roll of biological aging and on and on, and all this is proven over and over by science.
    And so, my simple question this time around is as follows:
    Do you also know if healthy fit women in their 50s have been shown to greatly reduce the risk of getting dementia compared to less fit women?.

  • Fitness School, Do you know the right answer?. Question 31, What´s up with that biceps, give us the lowdown.

    Quality time needed: 4 minutes


    Fitness School
    Do you know the right answer?.



    Question number 31 in our School of Fitness.
    When we are talking and thinking about muscles and keeping fit, Biceps is not just one of the more iconic names in the world of fitness and the human anatomy, it is also a very visible muscle that truly pops on people that keep healthy fit. But where on your body can you actually locate your biceps muscle and more importantly is the name biceps only referring to one muscle or do we have more than one biceps on our body?
    And so, my question for you is as follows:
    Can you tell us if the human anatomy have one or more muscles with the name biceps, and where are they/it located?.

  • A life of health & fitness. Life is a wondrous journey and this is a rough view of this years fitness journey ( the way I do it ).

    Quality time needed: 14 minutes


    Complete the circle of health & fitness.
    Every single day.
    Fitness, Food & Health is nothing but the science of a healthy, fun life :).



    The following is a rudimentary overview of my health & fitness life from Jan 1, 2018, to Jan 1, 2019. Some fitness folks think the world of planning ahead, and some absolutely do need a firm plan for the months and even year ahead.
    Short term goals firmly lined up and long-term goal posts holding their own further out make a world of difference for some. And your own goals can be about certain PB´s, they can involve reaching a certain body fat % or strength goal. Other common goals have to do with cardiovascular performance and might be focused on improving your lactate levels, running speed, zone levels or maximum heart rate. And for competitive pro athletes, those goals usually involve specific competitions and championships.

    So yes, setting up a rough schedule in advance of your fitness year can make a lot of sense.
    Just as how a lot of people count daily steps and calories.

  • Fitness School. Question 30, Let us talk about biological aging and our T cells and that beautiful little Thymus.

    Quality time needed: 6 minutes


    Fitness School
    Do you know the right answer?.



    Question number 30 in our School of Fitness.
    You all know that I have been a vocal proponent of how we do not simply grow old like some archaic fairy tale myth where people are doomed to live fat and unhealthy and frail once they leave their 20´s behind them.
    No instead, my science-backed message has for years been that we simply create and manage our own aging process according to our own choices in food, life, and fitness.
    Be it lean muscle mass, body fat, bone health, even our brain and plenty of natural hormones. Our daily choices carry such incredible weight when it comes down to all these aspects of our own wellbeing and health, much more so than the number of years we have lived or the genes we inherit. And Science proves me right on all these things, over and over, and over again.

    But, how about our immune system? In sedentary people, our thymus slowly becomes less capable as we mature beyond our 20´s. That is a simple fact.
    And so, my question for you:
    Will regular fitness stomp aging in the face or is the thymus and the stuff it does for us destined to go wry as we age no matter our fitness and food choices?.

  • Fitness School, Do you know the right answer?. Question 29, How prevalent is plastic litter amongst deep sea fish.

    Quality time needed: 6 minutes


    Fitness School
    Do you know the right answer?.



    Question number 29 in our School of Fitness.
    We have previously talked about getting enough natural amounts of omega 3 in our food. So let us cast our net a bit wider and deeper as we go hunting for natural Omega 3 sources in the deep sea.
    Yes, we are what we eat kiddos.
    And so, the time has come to talk about one of the better Omega 3 sources out there, which is fish ( like cows, fish love munching away on plant-based food such as Algae and so they end up with a ton of Omega 3, and so can you. ), and outside of Omega 3 fish also used to be a sustainable source of proteins and omega 3 amongst other things.
    The key word is used to be. But like us, and the cows, fish are what they eat.
    And today, outside of depleted fish stocks, fish swim in bodies of waters, polluted, and depleted of oxygen and ruined by us, the human species. And as health & fitness loving professionals and human beings, we always have to consider the world we live in, because we are all what we eat and the way we live becomes the state of our body & mind, life, and health. And if the fish you eat is full of toxins, plastic, and other unhealthy things, that is what you too will consume and thus, become.
    So, here is my question:
    How prevalent is plastic pollution in deep sea fish right now?.

  • Fitness School, Do you know the right answer?. Question 28, Let us get healthy and dirty with Omega 3 and milk.

    Quality time needed: 6 minutes


    Fitness School
    Do you know the right answer?.



    Question number 28 in our School of Fitness.
    As far as health & fitness goes, eating healthy food on a daily basis is the ever-present and perfectly fitted glove that wraps the fit hand that is regular and challenging workouts in the gym.
    And one of those nutritious, and essential for our health, nutrient staples are Omega 3´s. We get it in all sorts of seafood. And we can get it from omega 3 fortified foods such as eggs.
    Another wonderful omega 3 source are plant-based foods such as chia seeds. But, meat and dairy products from grass-fed cattle can also contain natural amounts of omega 3.
    So, here is my question:
    How much Omega 3 do you actually get from one L ( 1L ) of milk produced from grass fed cattle?.

  • Fitness School, Do you know the right answer?. Question 27, How big do you need your daily calorie deficit to be, in order to roughly drop 250g of bodyfat per week.

    Quality time needed: 7 minutes


    Fitness School
    Do you know the right answer?.



    Question number 27 in our School of Fitness.
    From a healthy fit perspective, both short & long term, what we need to sculpt is a life of daily physical activity in the right amount and the right intensity coupled with healthy food choices and the proper amount of nutrients.
    And those healthy choices include making sure that we get enough of those healthy nutrients in order to perform, in the gym and daily life, and we need enough of them in order for our body and mind to stay healthy, happy, capable and fit.
    Eat too little protein and you will start losing lean muscle mass, and your health will start to decline too since proteins are not just the major building blocks of our muscles, they are in fact the mud and water, wood and concrete that builds our entire body, be it your internal organs, your skin, hair, muscles, cells, or our brain.
    And the total amount of daily calories we consume is, of course, pretty much the same thing, eat too little in total, and you will start noticing how your health and fitness level slowly deteriorate. And if you do the opposite and stuff your tummy full with too many daily calories you will start gaining pure body fat in excessive amounts and it will continue to build unless you change your daily choices.
    So, here is my question:
    How big do you need to make your daily calorie deficit in order to lose 250g of body fat per week ( roughly ) while eating enough protein to preserve your lean muscle mass?.

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