Humans may be the only animal with a conscious awareness of growing older – and we are definitely the only animal capable of speeding up or slowing down our own aging process.
Many studies have shown that lack of exercise, especially when combined with risk factors such as obesity, will accelerate aging — while even moderate exercise, combined with other healthy habits, can unlock the body’s amazing power to slow down aging — or even reverse some of its consequences.
The Gain Without the Pain
The best news is that the benefits of restorative exercise can be captured without suffering. We’ve all seen the gym T-shirt that says: “Pain is weakness leaving your body”. In fact, pain is your body trying to tell you that you are overdoing it.
According to a new study in Cell Metabolism, high-intensity workouts actually reduce mitochondrial function, which produces the chemical energy needed to power muscle cells. The study also found that over-training caused insulin resistance to increase, turning fewer calories into energy.
Moderate exercise is all you need to:
· lose weight
· build heart and lung capacity
· increase muscle quality, and
· improve flexibility.
These four keys will unlock your body’s natural anti-aging superpowers, helping you look better, feel younger and live longer.
The First Key: Weight Loss
As you age, small changes in your metabolism, work stress, activity level and eating habits gradually make those extra pounds harder to lose. Unless you push back, weight gain can lead to obesity, along with high blood pressure, diabetes and other conditions which can shorten your life.
Losing weight helps prevent obesity-related illness, reduces your risk of some cancers and strengthens your overall immune system. Your energy and body image will also improve, encouraging more social interaction and banishing depression as you literally begin to look and feel better.
Losing weight takes work, but unlocking this anti-aging superpower is easier when you combine healthy eating with regular exercise, which burns calories, raises your metabolism and helps regulate insulin.
The Second Key: Heart and Lung Capacity
According to the WHO, one-third of all deaths are caused by heart disease, stroke or COPD. While the most important way to protect your cardiopulmonary health is to avoid smoking, you can slow the aging of your heart and lungs and improve their functional capacity through restorative aerobic exercise.
Regular aerobic exercise reduces blood pressure in hypertensive adults, improves sleep, relieves stress and can reduce depression or anxiety. Burning more calories also helps you lose weight.
To unlock this anti-aging superpower, just do something you enjoy until your pulse and breathing are elevated. Don’t overdo it, but keep going for 20 minutes, 3 to 5 times a week. Jogging, cycling, swimming and dance class are all effective. For older adults, brisk walking is a great, low-impact choice.
The Third Key: Muscle Quality
After age 30, your muscle mass declines about 5% per decade. This effect accelerates after age 60, becoming a primary cause of disability in older people. Loss of muscle mass and function result in poor coordination and balance, the cause of many injuries from falling.
Reduced muscle quality also allows body fat to increase, along with insulin resistance. All of these conditions contribute to limited mobility, increasing the likelihood of bone and joint ailments. But these conditions can be reversed. Resistance exercise is well-documented in restoring the wasted muscles of sedentary older people, as well as younger people who have been hospitalized.
At any age, you can turn on the synthesis of the muscle proteins which build mass and strength – and you can do it without strenuous weightlifting. With a combination of moderate resistance and aerobic exercise, you can unlock this anti-aging superpower to regenerate muscle quality.
The Fourth Key: Flexibility
Stretching doesn’t make you stronger. It trains your muscles and tendons to work together more efficiently over a wider range. For athletes, flexibility is important for warming up and to avoid injury. For older adults, flexibility is essential for good balance, to avoid a potentially life-threatening fall.
Stretching exercises should include all major muscle and joint groups, including:
· head and neck
· shoulders and upper back
· waist, hips and lower back
· arms, elbows, wrists and fingers
· legs, knees, ankles and toes
Exercising for flexibility will enhance your posture, improve your balance, reduce pain and relieve stress. To unlock this anti-aging superpower, work with a professional trainer to design a daily stretching routine, or if you enjoy group exercise, consider a yoga class.
Do the Right Things. And Do Things Right.
To get the most out of your training time, make sure that you have chosen the right exercises for your fitness needs, and make sure that you are performing each movement correctly. To guarantee good results, work with a restorative exercise professional.
Are you ready to unlock your anti-aging superpowers? Our personal trainers at Future Fitness can help you get started. Visit us online at www.futurefitness.training or call 817.803.4846.