Determining whether life can progress arbitrarily slowly may reveal fundamental barriers to staying out of thermal equilibrium for living systems. By monitoring budding yeast’s slowed-down life at frigid temperatures and with modeling, we establish that Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) and a global gene-expression speed quantitatively determine yeast’s pace of life and impose temperature-dependent speed limits - shortest and longest possible cell-doubling times. Increasing cells’ ROS concentration increases their doubling time by elongating the cell-growth (G1-phase) duration that precedes the cell-replication (S-G2-M) phase. Gene-expression speed constrains cells’ ROS-reducing rate and sets the shortest possible doubling-time. To replicate, cells require below-threshold concentrations of ROS. Thus, cells with sufficiently abundant ROS remain in G1, become unsustainably large and, consequently, burst. Therefore, at a given temperature, yeast’s replicative life cannot progress arbitrarily slowly and cells with the lowest ROS-levels replicate most rapidly. Fundamental barriers may constrain the thermal slowing of other organisms’ lives.