Some months ago, one of my trainers said that exercising makes me die earlier. “How dare you, civil drill-instructor?” Either he wanted to go broke, smoked crack or discovered something I didn’t know. Latter is almost impossible. Yet his bold statement got me hooked. So I dived into research like we do at ExperienceZone.

There is no evidence for either school of thought

After an hour of stalking google, I concluded with disappointment that he was neither right nor wrong. Argh, how much I hate grey zones, white spaces and black boxes! On the other side they enable me to shed some light on a subject. Unfortunately this time not based on my own experiences, since your smart-ass author is still here.

Life is all about balance. You have to find your own. Once you know where your sweet spot or – in broader terms – comfort zone is, you can make deliberate escapes into your experience zone. You can push limits, which accelerates growth yet increases risk. Or you can step on your tippy toes just outside your luke warm area, which brings decent progress and calculable risks.

Sports & Relaxation are just two ends of the same scale: Physical engagement. If you work out moderately and take Sundays off to chill on your couch, you’ll be just fine. No significant life span prolonging or shortening effect. In case you train like a beast and relax like on tranquilizers, you’ll either live longer or shorter.

So, what is the secret sauce of rejuvenation?

Scientists found out that “endurance athletes don’t necessary live longer but do die healthier”. What a great outlook! Let’s combine it with a second knowledge snippet though: “The length of you genomes determine your life expectancy.” These are the tiny ends of your DNA strings (the colorful garlands in the biology book, which contain your unique blueprint). The longer the genomes are, the more days are left to enjoy on planet earth. Usually, they’re shrinking over time. Slower if you’re relaxed and behave zen-like a turtle and faster if you freak out everyday. Physical, mental, and emotional stress makes you age quicker and die sooner.

If we combine my admittedly superficial pieces of wisdom, you want to engage in the following behaviors:

  1. Work out regularly. Best case on a daily basis. Find your optimum between strength, balance and flexibility exercises. Ideally outside at the fresh air and with exposure to sunlight.
  2. Don’t stress yourself. If you’re not into competitions, don’t sign up for them. I know, social pressure is a bitch. I recently ran a corporate half-marathon which almost killed me after an exhausting week and a short night. If you’re not feeling well or do have muscle ache, don’t work out that day. Listen to your body and follow your intuition.
  3. Take time for relaxation. Passivity is no time-waster. In contrast, it clears you mind and regenerates your muscles. For my bodybuilding buddies: Days off training actually make your muscles grow! Zzzzz…

Give it a try! Learn through trial-and-error. Then feel your genomes shorten and watch your body rejuvenate as if your name is Benjamin Button. Even if you don’t add days to your life, you’ll add life to your days. Even if you don’t want to do it for health, do it for vanity.