Can running make me age quicker?

Countless scientific studies have confirmed that physical activity increases longevity. Exercise has also been shown to increase telomere length. However, for maximum benefit there are a few things to consider.

Here at Eudelo I occasionally see people who are passionate long distance runners. In the majority of cases I find that their faces look much older than their chronological age, even though they do everything else right.

I suspect that the long distance running might be ageing their face prematurely. That’s anecdotal, of course, but the clinical picture is often striking. You might also have noticed how gaunt many professional long distance runners look compared to sprinters. For those reasons I am not a fan of long endurance cardio.

Much better with regards to reaping the anti-ageing benefits of exercise, while preventing premature skin ageing is interval training in my professional opinion.

High intensity interval training (HIIT) has even been shown to increase growth hormone release, which we know is anti-ageing. Studies have also demonstrated that key markers of mitochondrial wellbeing (mitochondria are our cells’ powerhouses) can be up-regulated by interval exercise.

Shorter duration, but more intense workouts have also been confirmed to improve blood sugar levels and insulin sensitivity, which can only be a good thing. An interesting study compared sprint interval running with continuous running at moderate intensity and confirmed that maximum oxygen uptake (an indicator of aerobic fitness) as well as blood sugar levels and insulin sensitivity was more improved with interval compared to continuous running.

For maximum health benefits, I recommend to incorporate three different exercise principles. These three principles are:

  1. Improve cardiovascular fitness with high-intensity interval training instead of prolonged endurance cardio.
  2. Improve balance and flexibility (yoga for example does that beautifully).
  3. Build up muscle strength (a set of resistance bands for example can help with that at home).

The key to truly beneficial exercise is also not to overdo it. Over-reaching yourself has been shown to increase systemic inflammation and oxidative stress as well as cortisol levels.

Stay safe and remember –

Strong is the new skinny!