Healthy Family | Home Safety | Health and Wealth | Relationship Issues | Career Advice | Growing Family
Get the SixWise e-Newsletter FREE!
Google Web
Free Newsletter Subscription
Get the Web's Most trusted & Informative Health, Wealth, Safety & More Newsletter -- FREE!


Share Email to a Friend Print This

Do You Only Have a Limited Lifetime Supply of Energy?
The Latest on this Theory

An early theory known as the rate of living theory suggests that every animal has a set amount of energy to expend during a lifetime. When that energy has been used up, the animal's life comes to an end.

Over recent years, the theory has become more advanced, but the basic tenet that how fast you burn calories is linked to aging has remained. Part of the theory's support came with the discovery that during metabolism free radicals are produced. Free radicals can then combine with hydrogen atoms to form reactive oxygen species (ROS), which are known to negatively effect proteins, enzymes and cell function.

energy, exercise

The rate of living theory suggests that the more energy you expend, the more damaging free radicals you produce -- and the faster you age. But science is uncovering that many other factors, like beneficial antioxidants, are also at play.

Therefore, the theory holds, the faster your metabolism, the more ROS produced (and therefore the quicker the rate of aging).

Should We All be "Saving" Our Energy?

If the rate of living theory were true, it seems we should all throw away our gym memberships and adopt a lifestyle to use up as little energy as possible. However, a new study found that there are clearly other factors, including antioxidants, involved.

Researchers studied three groups of 100 mice each. Two of the groups were bred to love running while the third was made up of regular mice. One group of runner mice and the regular mice were given access to running wheels, the other runner group was not.

After following 60 mice from each group for about three years, they found:

  • Runner mice with a wheel expended 25 percent more energy over the course of their lives than the other groups.

  • The runner mice (both groups) lived about 90 days less than the regular mice.

  • The regular mice lived longest, 826 days. Runner mice with a wheel lived 735 days, runners without a wheel, 725 days.

"The rate of living theory would have predicted that the running group that expended more energy would die earlier than the two groups that did not," said researcher Lobke Vaanholt from the University of Groningen, The Netherlands.

"The shorter life span cannot, therefore, be explained by a difference in metabolism," Vaanholt concluded. "There must be something else going on that causes these animals to age and die."

relaxation, aging

The real keys to longevity? Exercising sensibly, eating healthy foods and taking time to relax and de-stress yourself.

Are Antioxidants the Missing Link?

The researchers suspected that perhaps some of the mice lived longer, despite expending more energy, because of antioxidants.

"Since metabolic rate rises with activity level and oxidative stress rises with metabolic rate, perhaps the runner mice that expended more energy also produced more antioxidants, the body's defense against oxidative stress," Vaanholt said.

Upon testing antioxidant levels in the heart and liver tissues of the mice, no differences were found. However, researchers are still looking into increased antioxidants in other areas of the body, or a new theory, that increased activity level may spur higher DNA repair rates.

What IS known is that oxidative stress has been linked to:

  • Weakened muscles

  • Wrinkles

  • Fading eyesight and hearing

  • Organ failure

  • Diminished thinking abilities

Research shows that antioxidants help to prevent harmful oxidation in the body, plus, according to the American Dietetic Association, they may also decrease your risk of infection, heart disease and cancer while boosting the function of your immune system.

Keys to Longevity

It may be some time before researchers figure out exactly what causes and accelerates aging, but there are methods you can use now to live as long and healthy a life as possible:

  1. Eat a Healthy Diet, With Lots of Antioxidants. Antioxidants can be vitamins, minerals or enzymes, and they exist in foods (fruits, vegetables, nuts and other whole foods) and certain supplements. Want some help to fortify your diet with antioxidants? Check out our past article for a list of the top 20 antioxidant foods and six disease-fighting super antioxidants.

  2. Exercise Regularly. While exercising does cause some oxidative stress, most experts believe that a sensible amount of exercise is incredibly beneficial. This means, exercise at a level that's comfortable for you, and do it regularly, rather than overdoing it by exercising too often or too strenuously.

    "If you build your fitness level gradually, your body's antioxidant defenses will improve faster than the rate at which free-radical generation increases," says Alex Sevanian, Ph.D, professor of pathology in the department of molecular pharmacology and toxicology in the School of Pharmacy at the University of Southern California.

  3. Relax and Find Ways to Relieve Stress. Trying to fit too many tasks into a day, or filling your time with too many stressful activities, will wear you down, no matter how many fruits and vegetables you eat. Organize your life so you have time to appreciate little enjoyments, spend time with family and friends who make you feel good, and take time for yourself when you need it.

Recommended Reading

Why You NEED to Understand Oxidative Stress -- and How to Avoid It

Six Disease-Fighting Super Antioxidants You are Likely Not Getting Enough Of

Science Daily October 9, 2006

To get more information about this and other highly important topics, sign up for your free subscription to our weekly "Be Safe, Live Long & Prosper" e-newsletter.

With every issue of the free newsletter, you’ll get access to the insights, products, services, and more that can truly improve your well-being, peace of mind, and therefore your life!

Share Email to a Friend Print This