**Stressing the Body: The Key to a Longer, Healthier Life**
When it comes to aging and longevity, stress may be the missing ingredient for a longer, healthier life. Dr. Mark Hyman, an expert in aging and wellness, believes that stressing the body and brain is essential for increasing health span, or the number of healthy years lived free of disease. Instead of avoiding stress, Hyman emphasizes that a stress that doesn’t kill you can make you stronger and help you live longer.
**The Power of Adversity**
Dr. Mark Hyman, a 63-year-old aging and longevity expert, has dedicated his career to researching wellness practices and aging. He believes that adversity is one of the keys to living a long, healthy life. According to Hyman, our bodies have a built-in regenerative renewal repair system that is activated by adversity. When we experience short-term, healthy stress, such as exercise, our body’s longevity switches are activated, leading to improved health and increased longevity.
**Hormesis: The Biological Response to Stress**
Hormesis is the body’s biological response to short, healthy stress. This process activates pathways that can benefit and slow down the aging journey. Dr. Hyman describes it as the body’s way of “cleaning up old cells” and reducing inflammation. In other words, the body becomes more resilient and gains long-term strength through short-term stress.
**Harnessing Hormesis for a Longer, Healthier Life**
Fortunately, there are easy everyday activities that can harness the power of hormesis and contribute to a longer, healthier life. Dr. Mark Hyman has shared his top three stress activities that promote longevity:
**1. Exercise: Building Resilience with Physical Activity**
Exercise is a powerful form of hormesis as it requires short-term pain for long-term gain. Whether it’s a 30-minute power walk or a strength training session, any type of exercise can make a difference in building resilience to aging. Dr. Hyman personally follows a 30-minute strength training routine that includes body weight sessions and resistance bands for muscle strength, mobility, and balance. Research suggests that resistance bands may reduce frailty in older adults. It’s crucial to find an exercise routine that you enjoy and can sustain over time. National guidelines recommend at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity workouts and two days of strength training per week.
**2. Fasting: Harnessing the Power of Intermittent Fasting**
Intermittent fasting has been shown to combat age-related processes by reducing inflammation, increasing insulin sensitivity, and improving metabolism. Dr. Hyman practices overnight fasting for 12 to 16 hours, which stresses the body by breaking down cells and removing damaged proteins. After the fast, he consumes a nutritious breakfast filled with protein to repair and build muscle, combating age-related muscle loss.
**3. Hot vs. Cold: The Benefits of Temperature Variation**
Dr. Hyman incorporates hot and cold therapy into his daily routine for longevity benefits. He starts his day with a two-minute cold shower, which releases dopamine and adrenaline and improves mental clarity. Cold water immersion, whether through cold showers, ice plunges, or cold water swimming, has been linked to improved metabolism, reduced inflammation, and pain relief. On the other hand, significant temperature changes in the form of hot baths or saunas can also activate longevity pathways. Dr. Hyman recommends spending 30 minutes in a sauna at 170 degrees four or five times a week to increase heat shock proteins, boost the immune system, and improve cardiovascular health.
**Activating the Longevity Switches**
In addition to these stress-related longevity practices, Dr. Mark Hyman sometimes uses an oxygen deprivation mask during exercise to put his body in a temporary stress state. He emphasizes that we all have the power within us to activate our longevity switches and turn back the biological clock. By following the basic principles of human biology, such as stressing the body and embracing adversity, we can enhance our health span and live longer, healthier lives.
In conclusion, stressing the body through hormesis is a key component of healthy aging and longevity. Dr. Mark Hyman advocates for embracing adversity and utilizing stress to activate our longevity switches. By incorporating activities like exercise, intermittent fasting, and temperature variations, we can build resilience, reduce inflammation, and improve overall health. It’s time to harness the power of stress and unlock the secrets to living our longest, healthiest lives.