Episode 3: Heat, Cold & Other Stressors For Longevity | Lifespan With Dr. David Sinclair

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Key Takeaways

  • We need to induce adversity & stress in our lives: ancestrally, we’re built to withstand stress to survive – now, our society is built on comfort, so we aren’t expending energy to live anymore
  • “80% of your future health is in your hands – it’s modifiable, 20% is genetic which you can’t do much about. You have the tools to change your aging.” – Dr. David Sinclair
  • Try to get low-intensity exercise every day – walk around the block after dinner
  • Exercise vigorously (high-intensity training), 10-15 minutes per day, totaling 75 minutes per week
  • Resistance train regularly to build and maintain muscle mass – particularly in big muscle groups of the back, legs, posterior chain
  • Cycle heat and cold exposure as often as possible, even every day – if you don’t have access to a facility, vary the temperature in the shower or bath, change the temperature in your house


Dr. David Sinclair is a biologist, professor of genetics at Harvard, author, and expert on aging and longevity. His research and biotech companies focus on understanding why we age and how to slow its effects.

In this episode of Lifespan, Dr. David Sinclair & Matthew LaPlante take a deep dive into non-dietary interventions that may impact longevity. You’ll learn how to leverage physical activity, cold therapy, and heat therapy to mimic adversity and turn on specific genes that promote health.

Host: David Sinclair (@davidsinclair)  Co-Host: Matthew LaPlante (@mdlaplante)

Book: Lifespan: Why We Age and Why We Don’t Have To by David Sinclair

Adversity For Longevity & Healthspan

  • Ancestrally, we’re built to withstand stress to survive – now, our society is built on comfort, so we aren’t expending energy to live anymore
  • Adversity mimetics: things that mimic biological adversity that is conducive to better lifespan and healthspan
  • Adversity signals survival circuit and turns on specific survival genes
  • A single gene alteration can have a significant impact on an organism’s lifespan
  • Three main adversity sensors: mTor (senses levels of amino acids in the cell), AMPK (senses energy/glucose), sirtuins (sense NAD)

Just Move

  • “Get off your ass” – Dr. David Sinclair
  • Sitting is bad for us: even if you work, alternate between a standing desk and sitting
  • Your body needs to be in a state where it is pushed to take in more oxygen and mimic hormetic effects
  • Exercise isn’t just for aesthetics: exercise can slow down cancer, reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, and reduce all-cause mortality
  • Most diseases are an accumulation of symptoms of aging – if you slow the disease rate, you’ll reduce aging
  • 10,000 steps is not a magic number but when we move we burn calories and get the body into a better state
  • Tip: take a walk after you eat
  • We need a mix of aerobic and anaerobic exercise
  • Vigorous exercise: get breathing rate and heart rate up for at least 10 minutes 3x/week
  • Hypoxia turns on helpful genes to stimulate blood vessel growth and mitochondria & free radicals are generated
  • Exercise at least 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week
  • Building stamina: the more mitochondria you have, the more chemical energy you’ll produce and build blood vessels and transport more oxygen to the body
  • Exercise doesn’t just mean running: you can go for a long walk, paddleboard, skateboard, weight lift, play sports, etc.
  • Resting heart rate is a good measure of fitness, if it is high you’re either too stressed or unfit

Resistance Training

  • Resistance training or weight training supports posture and ability to stay upright, maintains hormone levels, improves balance, builds or maintains muscle mass – especially as aging
  • In the U.S., 19 people per minute fall and break a hip which is close to a death sentence in older age
  • You can boost testosterone by maintaining large muscle groups – legs, back, posterior chain
  • In just 12 weeks, exercise can slow and kill senescent cells

Exercise For Increased Glucose Sensitivity & Epigenome

  • As we age, muscles and brain become less sensitive to glucose
  • Muscles don’t bring in glucose as effectively and lead to damage in blood vessels and the brain which trigger disease
  • Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is made by muscles after exercise and stimulates production of blood vessels which transport oxygen
  • People who exercise are epigenetically younger than people who haven’t based on the Horvath clock and other similar clocks measuring biological aging
  • “80% of your future health is in your hands – it’s modifiable, 20% is genetic which you can’t do much about. You have the tools to change your aging.” – Dr. David Sinclair
  • You can’t improve what you don’t measure InsideTracker: David Sinclair co-founded a company that can tell you biological age and creates personalized and actionable plans to help people optimize their bodies through nutrition, supplements, and lifestyle

Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatment

  • Hyperbaric chamber: room or standing tube where pressure is increased and the amount of oxygen you breathe in is increased as a result
  • The science: hyperbaric chamber can reverse telomere shortening which will slow down aging
  • You can spend an hour in a hyperbaric chamber and read, meditate, etc.
  • Results of human studies on hyperbaric oxygen treatment: improved memory, increase in T helper cells, reversal of telomere shortening
  • Theory: hyperbaric chambers work similar to exercise and simulate hypoxia
  • Tested protocol: 5 sessions per week, 90-minutes in length, for 12 weeks  

Cold Therapy

  • A huge benefit of being cold is the production of brown fat which revs metabolism, is high in mitochondria, burns white fat, and possibly secretes healthy hormones
  • Cryotherapy lasts a few minutes and can feel good for several days after
  • Start in middle age before it becomes harder to incorporate discomfort
  • If you don’t have access to cryo-chamber: take a cold shower, sleep with fewer covers

Heat Therapy

  • Heat therapy is one of the most ancient therapies for aging
  • Men who participate in the sauna a few times per week have about 20% less risk of cardiovascular disease and mortality caused by heart attacks
  • Sauna activates heat shock proteins which help fold proteins correctly and stimulate pathways that build blood vessels and make more mitochondria
  • There isn’t a verified protocol but it doesn’t seem like you can overdo it as long as it’s a dose you can tolerate and maintain
  • If you don’t have a sauna, take a hot bath or shower
Lifespan With Dr. David Sinclair : , , , , , ,
Notes By Maryann

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