Improve THIS to Live Longer

For ages, humans have been trying to find ways to live longer.  From Ponce de Leon who searched for the Fountain of Youth to today’s scientists who are searching for compounds that can help turn back the aging clock, we as a species are obsessed with finding ways to prolong the inevitable.  The good news is, there IS something you can start working on right now, that is proven to extend your lifespan.

I’m talking about your lung power. As it turns out, how well your lungs can supply oxygen to your body determines your risk of dying from ANY cause. The medical journal Chest did a follow up study to the Buffalo Health Study—which followed over 1,100 people of all ages.

Their results?

The better your lungs work to supply critical oxygen to your body, the less risk you have of dying from ANY cause. [1]  This correlation was even stronger when it came to heart disease. What does this mean for you?  If you want to live a long, healthy life… you better start improving your lung function. The best way to do that is through intense exercise—preferably high-intensity interval training (HIIT).

By exercising in short bursts—like you do when sprinting, you build up your heart’s and lung’s reserve capacity. Basically, this is your body’s ability to spring into action at any given moment. Let’s say you need to run away from a neighbourhood dog that’s chasing you… if your heart and lungs don’t have enough reserve capacity, chances are you won’t get very far.

In fact, a lack of  reserve capacity is the cause of many heart attacks. The body just doesn’t have the extra “oomph” it needs to exert itself from a standstill.  To start building that capacity and begin improving your lung power, do a short interval of INTENSE exercise (you can pick whatever type of exercise you prefer). This interval should last anywhere from 30—90 seconds.

By this point, you should be panting and out of breath. It’s time to rest for about 60 seconds. Then rinse and repeat. Build up slowly… start with maybe just one interval of exertion and rest… and gradually increase the amount of intervals you can do, until you’re doing anywhere from 10—20 minutes total (alternating between intervals and rest).

One word of caution: Make sure to see your doctor and get his or her approval before you try doing high-intensity interval training or start any kind of exercise program. These intervals can be tough, so if you are currently out of shape, start slow and take it easy. Maybe start by walking… alternate between walking fast (for your intense interval) and walking slow (for the rest portion.)

Unfortunately, doing long-periods of exercise like jogging doesn’t build up your lung power. Short bursts of vigorous exercise remain the absolute best way to do it. You’ll burn plenty of calories (and fat). But even better, you’ll dramatically increase the chances that you’ll live longer.

References: 1. Schünemann, Holger J., MD, PhD et al, “Pulmonary Function Is a Long-term Predictor of Mortality in the General Population,” Chest Sept. 2000; 118( 3): 656-664

 

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