Longevity expert shares the exercise she does to live longer and prevent her body from ‘aging rapidly’

Recat’s Olivia for CNBC Make It

Stress fitness is a way of exercising the body with short periods of stress. Studies show that it can improve the health and regenerative life of your cells, instead of slowly depleting them.

Compare drinking coffee all day with tasting a single espresso. The first is not so good for you and probably leaves you anxious and nervous; the latter has beneficial effects on mood and health.

Stress is the same way. You don’t want to be stressed all day, but you want to take short, intense “hits” of it that will kick-start your body’s recovery process and train it to be more resilient to future stress.

I like to do my fitness exercises in the morning a few times a week, or at least once a week. Here are two to choose from:

1. High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

Complete a cycle of high-intensity interval training, which takes about seven minutes. You can choose as many as you want from the following list, but keep it simple to get started:

  • Push ups
  • Plank
  • side plank
  • Star Jumps
  • High knees
  • Jump rope
  • mountaineers
  • Skipped lunges
  • jump squat
  • burpees

Recat’s Olivia for CNBC Make It

Do each exercise for 30 seconds, followed by 10 seconds of rest. Repeat until the seven minutes are up.

Find your edge of intensity with speed where you feel some discomfort or struggle. Welcome discomfort and difficulty as part of the experience — don’t fight against them.

If you haven’t been active in a while, start with something accessible like slow to brisk walking.

2. Turn the dial cold

Studies have shown that taking a quick cold shower can reduce inflammation, increase longevity, and improve your metabolism.

At the end of a hot shower, turn the dial to cold. Can you stay under the stream for 15-30 seconds? One minute? Push yourself to the limit the same way you would with exercise, then relax. This is the key.

To build resilience, combine the shock of the stress response with a relaxed mind as much as possible.

Bonus workout: heat it up!

Exposure to cold triggers positive stress, as does exposure to heat, under the right circumstances.

Although more research is needed, some studies have found links between sauna baths and reduced risk of cardiovascular problems and inflammation.

Your heart rate increases during sauna use, as if you were doing moderate exercise. If you have access to a sauna at home or at your gym, try sitting in it for 30 minutes.

But be sure to check with your doctor first if you have any serious health conditions.

Elissa Epel, PhD, is a health psychologist and longevity researcher. She is a teacher at University of California, San Francisco and the director of UCSF Center for Aging, Metabolism and Emotions. In his latest book, “The Anti-Stress Prescription”, it distills decades of research into scientific techniques that can help your stress to grow stronger. Follow her on Twitter @Dr_Epel.

Don’t miss:

Want to be smarter and more successful with your money, your job, and your life? Subscribe to our new newsletter here!

Leave a Comment