Paul's top tip to reduce your Biological Age (and boosting your brain!)

When it comes to reducing Biological Age, there is one component that stands out above all others. Not only does it have the greatest weighting factor of any parameter, but it also has an impact on several other parameters. Anyone who saw the show may well suspect, correctly so, that is the 'magic pill' of exercise.

Not only will this increase your physical fitness (the most important parameter in Biological Age Testing), but it will also have a positive impact on blood pressure, blood lipids (cholesterol & triglycerides), blood glucose, lung function and, if you incorporate some strength training, which I highly recommend, it will positively influence the strength and endurance tests. The best part of all, exercise releases those 'happy hormones' making you feel fantastic afterwards!

The importance of exercise is obvious when you consider that the current human genome was created when man lived in the wild, in an environment of high physical activity – it requires and expects us to be physically active in order for both the body and brain to function normally. Think of the difference we get in exercise and food intake between us and the caveman - our brains and bodies literally haven't caught up!

Apart from the beneficial effects of exercise on reducing your biological age, much new research has come to light over the past decade or so on it’s impact on the brain. Let me put it this way – there is NOT A CHANCE that your brain will be functioning optimally if you are not physically active!

That may sound like a pretty sweeping statement, but apart from delivering more blood and oxygen to the brain (both necessary for optimal functioning); consider the following brain-based benefits of exercise:

Increased BDNF – this is one of a family of Neurotropins, or growth factors that help nerve cells in the brain (neurons) to grow and survive. Think of it as ‘miracle grow’ for the brain. It helps to grow new neurons, strengthens them, improves their function, protects them from attack by foreign invaders, and is hugely important for learning, memory and overall cognitive function. It also promotes the releases of serotonin, which most of us know is important for mood. It has anti-depressant qualities and is reduced by stress and not surprisingly, is low in depressed people, as well as people with schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s, dementia and eating disorders.

Increased IGF-1 – this growth factor is released by muscles in response to exercise. IGF-1 travels through the bloodstream and into the brain, where it helps to increase activation of neurons and has a key role in learning.

Increased VEGF – another growth factor that is produced in muscles in response to exercise. Most of us know that oxygen is crucial for the brain, and VEGF provides the transport infrastructure for oxygen, by stimulating the formation of new capillaries (tiny blood vessels) in the body and brain.

Increased FGF-2 – this also makes its way to the brain from the body and is important in growing new neurons and helping them to fire with other neurons.

These are only some of the mechanisms that make exercise the 'magic pill', and research shows that this 'magic pill' also has a dose-response, which means that more is better. It also appears that a stronger pill, in this case vigorous exercise, is also better.

The take-home message is if you want to reduce you BioAge AND be a high-performer, exercise is the key and you will feel fantastic as a result!