Dr Mosley names low-impact exercise that 'reduces biological age' by slowing rate of decline

Stock image of yoga pose

Yoga may boost the body's defences against ageing

Solen Le Net

By Solen Le Net

Published: 27/05/2024

- 13:24

Updated: 28/05/2024

- 09:36

Yoga may boost the body's natural defences against side-effects of ageing, new evidence suggests

Ageing gracefully is not about looking decades younger than one's age, but focuses on optimising health with the help of different tools.

Exercise and diet are both effective measures and have become central to discussions on anti-ageing.

Physically, changes in the body with age lead to a loss of flexibility, muscular strength and balance.

Yoga is often promoted as an anti-ageing tool because it relieves pain and stiffness in everyday life.

Woman doing yoga exercise

Yoga offers protection against oxidative stress


However, new evidence suggests that the benefits of yoga may also exist on a cellular level.

In a recent episode of the BBC podcast Just One Thing, Dr Michael Mosley dove into the cellular benefits of yoga for the ageing body.

He spoke to Professor Rima Dada, from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi, who listed several newly discovered benefits of the low-impact sport.

“Mitochondria are the powerhouses of the cells so they produce ATP (adenosine triphosphate) which is energy," Rima said.

“As mitochondria tend to accumulate mutations and variations they produce less ATP and that is [...] the cause of functional decline of tissue, and that is how we start to age.

“Through our studies, we have found yoga can improve the mitochondrial integrity as well as the nuclear DNA integrity.

“If the mitochondrial integrity improves, it produces more ATP, more energy and thereby you can slow down the functional decline of the tissues."

She added: “If we can improve the mitochondrial integrity decrease the oxidative stress and inflammation, and enhance the total anti-oxidant capacity by yoga, we can [...] delay or slow down the rate of cellular ageing, thereby reducing our biological age.”

Further research suggests mind-body practices like yoga may also have beneficial effects on brain function.

Earlier this year, researchers at UCLA discovered that Kundalini yoga protects the brain from cognitive decline.


Women doing yoga

Yoga may slow down the functional decline of tissues


The evidence showed that the practice restores neural pathways in women at risk of developing Alzheimer's disease.

It comes as, JJ Virgin, an influencer in her 60s, claims she looks 45 thanks to her weekly yoga practice.

She said: "I'm doing yoga at least once a week, and between you and me, I count every minute I'm in there - it's not something I love.

"I'm also working on trying new sports."

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