Longevity. It’s a word that’s so easily thrown around, often in conjunction with vitamins, supplements, and the latest trendy workout to hit the mainstream. While many things play into longevity (which, as a refresher, is defined as a long life or existence), none impact it quite as much as regular exercise. Sure, not smoking definitely has a sizable impact, but today we’re here to talk about what to do, not what not to do.
With that in mind, we chatted with Alejandro Junger, MD, an LA-based cardiologist and bestselling author of Clean ($9) and Clean 7 ($15) as well as the founder and Medical Director of the Clean Program, "a trusted brand for detoxes, cleanses, and products to support whole-body health." After all, what better way to focus on longevity than to ask a cardiologist how they aim to do the very same?
Keep reading for how Dr. Junger approaches his daily life with an eye toward the future.
Once upon a time
"In my 20s I was competing in Taekwondo," shares Dr. Junger. "My workout routine was intense. Stretching, kicking, running, resistance training, form repetition. I really enjoyed it and got quite good at it."
In Dr. Junger's 30s, he was after more aesthetic-based goals, so he did a combination of cardio and weightlifting. "I learned how to eat to get lean and I got to a seven-percent body fat, which I found impossible to maintain long term."
"In my 40s, I got interested in running and did long-distance running for hours at a time. I felt great, but my knees never let me forget the hell I put them through."
Now, 30 years later
"Now I am in my 50s and I am interested in tricking my body into thinking that it is living in nature, eating what nature designed it to eat, intermittently, as it happens in nature. And exercising is part of it. I imagine that if I was living in nature I would be using my body in a way that we would call exercise today. I would walk, run, climb, swim, etc., depending on what the needs were such as hunting, migrating, crossing rivers, building huts, and the like. So my weekly routine is no routine, but plenty of variation. I walk, I swim, I run, I climb, depending on where I am and what is going on. The idea is to move and exert my muscles, demanding from them different things at different times—a minimum of 30 minutes a day, but sometimes longer."
When it comes to longevity, Dr. Junger says that exercise is crucial and, as such, it’s a paramount part of his daily life and weekly routine.
"It makes me feel good and I enjoy doing it and the effects that it causes later," he shares. "I feel better when my muscles are alive, sometimes even sore after exercise. But also because I know that there is plenty of scientific evidence that confirms my own personal experience and even explains it. People that exercise regularly have less diseases, of all kinds, including heart disease, depression, Alzheimer’s, and diabetes."
And with fewer diseases comes more life.
Workouts and longevity
While there are many reasons to connect exercise to longevity—from its ability to boost mood and reduce depression to its capacity to generate energy and support a healthy metabolism, flexibility, and resilience—Dr. Junger says that arguably the biggest impact of workouts on longevity is the way in which it affects muscles.
"Regular exercise makes your muscles grow and stay strong," he says, noting that muscles are now being understood as the generators of longevity. "Research done by the University of Michigan suggests that having stronger muscles is linked to living longer. The study, published in the Journal of Gerontology: Medical Sciences, showed that people with low muscle strength are 50 percent more likely to die earlier than their stronger peers."
No matter how you move your body, the fact that you actually move it regularly is imperative for overall health and longevity. While the way in which you move your body may change as you age, so long as you keep moving, you’ll continuously be making strides to a longer, healthier life.
Get moving with this 11-minute full-body mobility routine:
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