Which exercise is best for anti aging?


Aging is a natural process that all of us go through. As we grow older, our bodies and minds change in many ways. While some amount of decline is inevitable, research shows that staying physically active can slow down aging and help you maintain health and independence longer.

When it comes to anti-aging exercise, not all workouts are created equal. Certain types of exercise are better than others at combating age-related decline. This article will explore the top science-backed exercise strategies to slow aging and keep you feeling youthful.

Which exercise is best for anti aging?

How Exercise Fights Aging

Before diving into specific workouts, let's look at how exercise fights aging in the first place.

Reduces Inflammation

Inflammation is directly linked to many age-related diseases. As we get older, low-grade chronic inflammation wears on the body over time. Aerobic exercise and strength training help reduce systemic inflammation. They also lower inflammatory markers like IL-6, TNF-a, and CRP.

Increases Longevity

People who exercise regularly tend to live longer lives. Studies show that physical activity extends lifespan by 4.5 years on average. Moderate exercise may also slow telomere shortening. Telomeres are caps on the ends of chromosomes that shorten with age.

Builds Muscle Mass

We naturally lose muscle mass and strength as we age, a condition called sarcopenia. Staying active with resistance training builds muscle to combat sarcopenia. This helps maintain mobility, balance, and independence.

Enhances Brain Function

Exercise benefits the brain by boosting blood flow, oxygenation, brain plasticity, and growth hormone production. It can improve cognitive function and may reduce dementia risk by up to 30%.

Strengthens Bones

Weight-bearing and high-impact exercise strengthens bones by increasing bone density. This can prevent osteoporosis and dangerous bone fractures later in life.

Improves Heart Health

Regular cardiovascular exercise improves heart health by lowering blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and resting heart rate. This reduces heart disease risk, which rises with age.

The 5 Best Anti-Aging Exercises

Now let's dive into the top 5 most effective exercise types for fighting aging.

1. Aerobic Exercise

Aerobic exercise, also known as cardio, is one of the best types of exercise for healthy aging. Aerobic means “with oxygen”, and this type of exercise gets your heart pumping to deliver oxygenated blood throughout your body.

Research shows that aerobic exercise helps reverse signs of aging at the cellular level. A study in the Journal of Applied Physiology found that aerobic exercise reduced biologic aging by over 4 years for middle-aged adults after just 6 months of training.

Aerobic exercise combats aging by:

  • Increasing cardiovascular fitness
  • Reducing chronic inflammation
  • Improving cellular regeneration
  • Lowering heart disease risk
  • Boosting immunity
  • Reducing stress and boosting mood through endorphins

To reap anti-aging benefits, aim for 150 minutes of moderate cardio or 75 minutes of vigorous cardio per week. This can be met through activities like brisk walking, jogging, cycling, swimming, dance classes, aerobics classes, and more. HIIT (high intensity interval training) is an especially powerful form of cardio for anti-aging.

Try alternating moderate steady-state cardio with short bouts of high intensity intervals. This challenges your body in different ways for maximum benefits.

2. Strength Training

While aerobic exercise is great for your heart and lungs, it’s not enough by itself. Strength training is crucial for preserving muscle mass and strength as you age. Resistance exercises build muscle by making your muscles work against resistance from bodyweight, free weights, machines, or elastic bands.

Studies show that seniors who begin strength training can rebuild muscle mass to the levels of people decades younger. Strength training provides a host of anti-aging benefits:

  • Builds muscle to prevent sarcopenia
  • Strengthens bones to prevent osteoporosis
  • Keeps joints flexible and stable
  • Improves balance and coordination to prevent falls
  • Boosts metabolism and helps manage weight
  • Supports mobility and independence

Aim for 2-3 sessions per week on non-consecutive days. Work all major muscle groups, including the legs, hips, back, chest, shoulders, arms, and core. Mix up heavy compound lifts like squats and deadlifts with targeted isolation exercises.

3. Yoga

Yoga combines physical poses with breathing and meditation for whole body benefits. Regular yoga practice helps reverse signs of aging in numerous ways:

  • Building strength and balance
  • Improving flexibility and range of motion
  • Reducing inflammation
  • Lowering stress hormones
  • Calming the nervous system
  • Enhancing cognitive functions like memory and focus

Yoga is more gentle than intense cardio or weight training, making it ideal for aging bodies. It helps seniors maintain agility and physical function well into old age. Yoga also cultivates body awareness to reduce injury risk from falls or overexertion.

Aim to practice yoga 1-2 times per week to reap anti-aging rewards. Hatha, Iyengar, and Restorative yoga are great for older beginners. Work up to Vinyasa flow, Ashtanga, or Power Yoga for a more vigorous practice. Yoga's anti-aging powers will continue to develop the longer you stick with it.

4. Tai Chi

Tai chi is a mind-body practice that flowing sequences of gentle, low-impact movements paired with deep breathing and meditation. Though traditionally practiced for martial arts and self-defense, tai chi has evolved into a popular exercise for health and longevity.

Research confirms tai chi's potent anti-aging effects, including:

  • Improved cognition, memory and focus
  • Increased bone density and reduction in bone loss
  • Reduced risk of falls and improved balance
  • Decreased blood pressure and cardiovascular risk
  • Lessened chronic pain
  • Improved immunity and reduced inflammation
  • Increased flexibility and mobility
  • Improved sleep quality

Aim to practice tai chi for 45-60 minutes 1-3 times per week. Make sure you learn from a qualified instructor, as tai chi requires proper technique and form to maximize benefits. The slow mindful movements will deliver anti-aging results over time.

5. Walking

You don't need fancy equipment or a gym membership to reap potent anti-aging benefits. One of the simplest yet effective exercises is brisk outdoor walking. Walking delivers a host of age-defying effects:

  • Improves cardiovascular health
  • Strengthens muscles and bones
  • Boosts balance and coordination
  • Lowers risk of heart disease, diabetes, and stroke
  • Reduces inflammation
  • Improves mood through endorphin release
  • Boosts vitamin D levels from sunlight

Aim for 30-60 minutes of brisk walking at least 3-5 days per week. Get outside in nature as much as possible and walk with good posture. You can supplement your walks with jogging or hiking for added intensity.

Walking is a low-impact exercise that most people of any age or fitness level can do. But its simplicity shouldn’t fool you – brisk walking provides powerful anti-aging rewards.

Other Key Anti-Aging Exercises

Beyond the top 5, there are a few other forms of exercise worth mentioning for their anti-aging benefits:

  • Swimming - Low-impact cardiovascular exercise that builds endurance without stressing joints. Also boosts mood.
  • Dancing - Fun way to get heart-pumping cardio. Challenges balance, coordination, and memory.
  • Tai Chi - Mind-body practice to improve balance, flexibility, immunity, and cognition.
  • Yardwork/Gardening - Physical activity outdoors with mental engagement. Boosts strength, endurance, and vitamin D.
  • Bodyweight Training - Squats, push-ups, planks etc. build muscle at home without equipment.
  • Cycling - Low-impact cardio that’s easier on joints than running.
  • Stretching & Foam Rolling - Improves flexibility and range of motion. Reduces stiffness.

Keys for Maximum Anti-Aging Results

To get the most out of your exercise routine for anti-aging:

  • Exercise regularly - Aim for 30-60 mins most days of the week
  • Include strength training - Lift weights 2-3x/week to build muscle
  • Increase intensity - Challenge yourself with HIIT, hills, speed, etc.
  • Stay active daily - Take the stairs, pace while on the phone, garden, etc.
  • Reduce sitting - Break up sedentary time as much as possible
  • Mix it up - Vary your workouts to prevent boredom and overuse
  • Focus on good form - Move with care and control to prevent injury
  • Listen to your body - Take rest days when needed and build up slowly

The Anti-Aging Diet

To maximize the anti-aging benefits of exercise, pair it with a healthy diet full of anti-inflammatory and antioxidant-rich foods. Key nutrients that fight aging include:

  • Protein - Builds muscle and repairs tissue
  • Healthy fats - Reduces inflammation and oxidative damage
  • Vitamins & minerals - Antioxidants to combat free radicals
  • Phytochemicals - Plant compounds that protect cells
  • Water - Proper hydration keeps cells functioning

Fill your diet with fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, fatty fish, olive oil, and leafy greens. Limit sugar, refined carbs, processed foods, and saturated fats. Time restricted eating and occasional fasting also have anti-aging benefits.


Exercise is one of the most powerful tools we have to slow the aging process and maintain youth as long as possible. Mixing up aerobic conditioning, strength training, flexibility exercises, and mind-body practices delivers comprehensive anti-aging benefits for your body and mind.

Aim for regular workouts that challenge your cardiovascular fitness, build muscle, enhance cognition, and reduce inflammation. Combine exercise with proper nutrition, stress management, and rest for an all-around anti-aging lifestyle.

While aging is inevitable, you have significant control over how well you age. Regular exercise keeps you looking and feeling young from the inside out!

Frequently Asked Questions on Anti-Aging Exercise

Choosing the Right Exercise

What is the best type of exercise for anti-aging?

There is no single best exercise. A combination of aerobic exercise, strength training, flexibility training, and balance exercises provides comprehensive anti-aging benefits. Aim for a mix of moderate intensity cardio, weight lifting, yoga, and activities like tai chi or dancing.

Is high-intensity exercise safe as I get older?

Yes, you can still do high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and vigorous workouts as you age. Pay close attention to your body, build up intensity slowly, and take rest days to allow for recovery. Shorter, gentler HIIT sessions are safer than lengthy high-intensity workouts.

What if I have mobility issues or injuries?

Focus on low-impact activities like walking, swimming, cycling, tai chi, or chair yoga. Stretching and foam rolling will also help. Consider seeing a physical therapist to help design a safe, personalized program.

Health Benefits

How soon will I see anti-aging results from exercise?

You can see benefits after just a few weeks. Studies show exercise starts reversing cellular aging in as little as 6 months. The longer you stick with it, the greater the anti-aging payoff.

What aspects of health and aging does exercise improve?

It boosts heart health, muscle/bone strength, balance, coordination, cognitive function, mood, sleep, immune function, hormonal regulation, digestion, and much more. Exercise also reduces inflammation and oxidative stress.

Will exercise help me live longer?

Yes, studies show regular exercisers live up to 4-5 years longer on average. The increased longevity comes from a reduced risk of chronic diseases and improved quality of life into old age.

Maximizing Results

How often and long do I need to exercise for anti-aging benefits?

Aim for 30-60 minutes of exercise at least 5 days per week. Blend cardio, strength training, and flexibility 3-5 days and take 1-2 rest days.

What if I hate exercising - can I still get benefits?

Find activities you enjoy - walk outside, dance, garden, or join exercise classes. Distract yourself with music/podcasts. Exercising with a friend or in a group also helps make it more enjoyable. Start slow.

Is it ever too late to start exercising?

It's never too late! Even people in their 90s and beyond can improve their health with exercise. Start slowly and focus on mobility and balance versus high intensity. Some movement is better than none.

Diet and Lifestyle

Do I need to follow a special diet for anti-aging?

Fill your diet with fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, nuts, seeds, fatty fish, and olive oil. Avoid sugar, refined carbs, processed foods, and saturated fats. Time restricted eating also fights aging.

Will exercise negate negative effects from lack of sleep?

No - sleep is critical. Aim for 7-9 hours per night. Exercise helps sleep better, but won't offset harms from poor sleep. Prioritize quality sleep as well as regular exercise.

How can I stay motivated to keep exercising as I age?

Set meaningful goals, join a gym or class to exercise with others, find forms of exercise you enjoy, track your progress, and focus on your wins. Staying active should become a lifestyle.

Resources used to write this article

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Harridge, S. D., & Lazarus, N. R. (2017). Physical activity, aging, and physiological function. Physiology, 32(2), 152-161. https://doi.org/10.1152/physiol.00029.2016

Nilwik, R., Snijders, T., Leenders, M., Groen, B. B., van Kranenburg, J., Verdijk, L. B., & van Loon, L. J. (2013). The decline in skeletal muscle mass with aging is mainly attributed to a reduction in type II muscle fiber size. Experimental gerontology, 48(5), 492–498. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.exger.2013.02.012

Bherer, L., Erickson, K. I., & Liu-Ambrose, T. (2013). A review of the effects of physical activity and exercise on cognitive and brain functions in older adults. Journal of aging research, 2013. https://doi.org/10.1155/2013/657508

Marques, E. A., Mota, J., & Carvalho, J. (2012). Exercise effects on bone mineral density in older adults: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Age (Dordrecht, Netherlands), 34(6), 1493–1515. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11357-011-9311-8

Pedersen, B. K., & Saltin, B. (2015). Exercise as medicine - evidence for prescribing exercise as therapy in 26 different chronic diseases. Scandinavian journal of medicine & science in sports, 25 Suppl 3, 1–72. https://doi.org/10.1111/sms.12581

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