A new study confirms what I’ve suspected for years:
Cardio shrinks your telomeres.
Even a couch potato who does no exercise at all may be better off from a telomere length standpoint than the folks who run marathons and spend hours on treadmills.
Why is this important to you?
Because many of today’s most widespread conditions and illnesses are associated with shorter telomeres. Telomeres are the tiny genetic “clocks” that tell your cells how old they are.
Today, I’ll show you the simple alternative to cardio that can help you maintain your telomeres, so you can live stronger and longer.
It’s the opposite of aerobics and other endurance exercises, which shorten your telomeres and make you more susceptible to cancer and heart disease.
In one telomere study, people with the longest telomeres were the least likely to develop cancer. They were more than 10 times less likely to develop cancer than people with short telomeres.1 And when I read further into the study, I discovered that people with short telomeres are twice as likely to die from cancer.
Another study shows that the death rate for heart attacks is almost three times higher for people whose telomeres get short the fastest.2
As bad as it is to have accelerated telomere loss, that’s exactly what endurance exercise does. And the studies proving it have been completely ignored by mainstream fitness “experts.”
In one, researchers followed up on the known fact that long-term, cardio-type exercise damages your muscle cells. They decided to take it a little further and examine the damaged cells. One of the things they looked at was the length of the telomeres inside these muscle cells.
Athletes with “exercise fatigue” – the athletes doing the long-duration cardio workouts – had much shorter than normal telomeres.
The title of this study, as it appeared in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, sums it up perfectly: “Athletes with exercise-associated fatigue have abnormally short muscle DNA telomeres…”
And, if that’s not enough, in another more recent study researchers compared trained athletes to “sedentary individuals.”
They looked at the telomere lengths of trained athletes doing cardio vs. coach potatoes who did no exercise at all.
The couch potatoes had longer telomeres than the endurance athletes.
In fact, the experienced runners ALL had shorter telomeres than the people doing no exercise. What’s more, the longer the runners ran, the shorter their telomeres.
Fortunately for you, we now have the ability to influence the length of these tiny genetic clocks. You can have younger-acting cells and help avoid age-related problems by maintaining your telomere length.
The most powerful way to do this is to do the opposite of what fitness experts recommend.
Instead of hours of low-power exercises like running and cardio, you can maintain the length of your telomeres with shorter periods of exertion where you challenge yourself a bit more.
You see, cardio is a low-power exercise. Think about what it’s like when you run – it’s steady plodding and pounding for a long period of time.
What you want to do instead is give your body a challenge, and do it over shorter periods of time.
For instance, one study done at the University of California in San Francisco found that vigorous exertion protects you from high stress by protecting your telomeres.3 And there are dozens more trials that show the same thing.
So,instead of cardiovascular endurance exercise, think “cardiopulmonary exertion.”
You can do this kind of exertion by keeping the time brief, and challenging your heart and lungs just a bit more with each set of exertion, and with each workout. This is called “progressivity,” and it’s what every modern workout program lacks.
Progressivity means you increase the difficulty (pick up the pace or increase the resistance) just a little bit with each set, and in each workout after that.
Doing just a little bit more, or changing it up in some way to give your heart and lungs a different challenge gives you the same benefit as increasing the time you spend working out.
You’ll reprogram your muscles, heart and lungs to get stronger and more responsive. And you’ll reverse the wear and tear on your body and maintain your telomeres instead of breaking them down faster.
With that in mind, let me give you one movement you can do right in your own home, no equipment necessary, that will challenge your heart, lungs and several large muscle groups.
It’s called a Dive Bomber.
1. Begin with your body looking like an upside-down “V” from the side. Position yourself like you would for a pushup, but with your butt up in the air, and your head between your arms. (If you’re familiar with yoga, it should look like a “downward-facing dog.”)
2. Next, swoop your head, followed by your body, downward as if you were a bird or plane diving toward the ground.
3. Then drive your torso straight up, so that you’re looking directly ahead. Keep the hips low to the ground and your hands directly below your shoulders. It will be as if you were trying to dive under a large ball hanging over your back. (In yoga, this position is called “cobra.”)
A true dive-bomber pushup means you repeat the above steps in reverse order until you’re back to your original starting position, staying as fluid and smooth as possible.
If you’ve never done a dive bomber before, start with just a few. Go slowly, especially if running or some extreme workout program has caused you to hurt your back in the past. This movement is designed so that you can be progressive without going faster to increase the challenge.
You can add progressivity by holding the pose in each direction a bit longer, or do a few more than you did last time. Or you can do a calf raise or a set of calf raises before each Dive Bomb.
And remember, working out should be fun. You don’t have to do a regimented number of movements, and you don’t have to strictly time yourself. You can change it up. Just keep it progressive.
P.S. If you’d like to learn more about how progressivity works, and discover more ways you can build yourself a naturally younger body, subscribe to my Confidential Cures newsletter. The newest issue came out today, and as a bonus, you’ll get my special report “Are Your Lungs Dying?” that shows you how to use progressivity and why it will work to transform your body, including over 20 pages of workouts you can use starting today. Click here and get this exclusive report as a free gift!
1. Armanios M, Alder J, Parry E, Karim B, Strong M, Greider C. “Short Telomeres are Sufficient to Cause the Degenerative Defects Associated with Aging.” Am J Hum Genet. 2009 December 11; 85(6): 823–832.
2. Epel E, Blackburn E. Unpublished study in Aging, as reported to Cathryn Delude in “Genetic clues to predicting life span: Inside chromosomes are telomeres that age as we age, and may serve as indicators of how long we’ll live.” Los Angeles Times. March 2, 2009.
3. Puterman E, Lin J, Blackburn E, O’Donovan A, Adler N, et al. “The Power of Exercise: Buffering the Effect of Chronic Stress on Telomere Length.” PLoS ONE May 2010. 5(5): e10837