9 years younger

I spent the long weekend doing hours of exercise. A spontaneous ride on the Icefields Parkway over two of the highest mountain passes in Canada. I have wanted to ride this since I moved to Alberta, but a number of factors need to come together to make it possible.  

First, you need a ride to Jasper and that is 4 hours away.

Second, an available place to stay along the way and these are extremely limited.

Third, decent weather which is always scarce when you are high in the mountains.

Lastly, a time when there is not too much traffic.

The stars aligned this weekend and we had near perfect conditions. This included starting our day in the dark, as the sun had not crested the mountains and it was a balmy zero degrees Celsius to start our second day’s ride. A little hypothermic, but with a big climb and a little hand warming, the day got hot and the wind stayed minimal, except for the hardest climb of the day. This is, of course, was when we had a head wind…

You might have seen the recent news that high levels of exercise can be directly related to reduced aging. I feel so much younger today. 

You can slow the effects of aging at your cellular level. The research published in Preventative Medicine found that people who consistently exercised at higher levels had significantly longer telomeres. Telomeres are at the ends of your chromosomes and they function as a biological clock, each time a cell replicates we lose a little of the ends of our telomeres and as our telomeres get shorter we get older.

Brigham Young, exercise science professor and researcher,  Larry Tucker says,

“If you want to see a real difference in slowing your biological aging, it appears that a little exercise won’t cut it. You have to work out regularly at high levels.” 

What does Professor Tucker mean by high levels? At least 30-40 minutes of jogging, 5 days per week. The bad news for most people is that those who did moderate activity had no difference in telomere length than the sedentary folks.  Exercise suppresses oxidative stress and inflammation, but it needs to be intense and regular to make a difference. Weekend warriors and casual exercisers are not going to reap more benefits than their sedentary friends.

When you are out on a long bike ride, over 6 hours in the saddle, you have a lot of time to think. Besides having the lyrics to one song stuck in my head (thankfully it was a good one, Prince, Alphabet Street). I was thinking about why we know that more exercise is good, but somehow most of us don’t follow through, even with good intentions. I saw a lot of people driving to each viewpoint, getting out of their car, taking a photo and driving to the next one. We saw very few people doing any exercise. 

There were more Big Horn sheep watching us then other people exercising.

I have a number of theories about why people don’t exercise. Regularly, consistently or intensely enough. After many years of enjoying, sometimes in a “glad it is over sense”, intense exercise and just as many years hearing the excuses for not exercising I have a few theories.

I will share my theories with you, but before I do, I want to know what do you think? Why do you think more people don’t exercise enough? What stops you from turning up the dial on your exercise intensity? Why is this one thing, that has more benefits than any pill you could take, so hard to do regularly?

Let me know and I will share your thoughts and mine.

Change your mind, change your health,


Here are a few photos from our big ride, from freezing cold to not freezing, to finished!

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