Everyone ages, and there is not much anyone can do about it. There is no magic pill, drink, or food that will keep you at a young, healthy age. At least not yet... (maybe way in the future this will change??)
It is the natural process of the body to get older. Your muscles and mind start to deteriorate. Your skin loses its elasticity. It the unfortunate truth.
But there may be something that can help slow down the aging process and keep your body and mind strong.
The answer is EXERCISE.
"The powers of a steady fitness routine are impressive: regular exercise can help you build stronger muscles, stave off chronic illnesses, and make your clothes fit a whole lot better. But there's another benefit of physical activity that deserves a shout-out: the way even moderate amounts seem to shave years off your age, no matter how many birthdays you've actually celebrated. Of course, you can't change your chronological age, but exercise can improve your health to the point where you look and feel younger than you are, says Frank Frisch, PhD, director of kinesiology at Chapman University in Orange, Calif. " (Health - 2018)
Exercise comes in two different forms, aerobic or strength training. Aerobic exercise is cardio, where you elevate your heart rate and get your blood flowing. Strength training helps build muscle and slow down the natural atrophy of muscle. Science also breaks exercise into the four cornerstones of movement; endurance, strength, flexibility, and balance. Working on all aspects of this can certainly help to keep your entire body younger.
Cardio, or endurance exercises, like running, jogging, walking, cycling and more focus on your heart. As we age our heart muscles start to stiffen. Our heart supplies blood to our entire body, and if our heart muscles can't pump the blood throughout our body many other functions and organs will be effected and weaken. "In a study published in September in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, researchers took a look at the physical activity levels of nearly 140,000 women aged 50 to 79 and found surprisingly noticeable and important links between walking and a reduced risk of heart failure, a condition when the heart stops pumping blood as it should. Heart failure is a key contributor to heart disease, the US' leading cause of death." (Business Insider - 2018)
"Endurance exercise is the best way to improve cardiovascular function. It helps keep the heart muscle supple and the arteries flexible, lowers the resting heart rate, and boosts the heart's peak ability to deliver oxygen-rich blood to the body's tissues. A related benefit is a fall in blood pressure."
"Endurance exercise is also the best way to protect the body's metabolism from the effects of age. It reduces body fat, sensitizes the body's tissues to insulin, and lowers blood sugar levels. Exercise boosts the HDL ("good") cholesterol and lowers levels of LDL ("bad") cholesterol and triglycerides. And the same types of activity will fight some of the neurological and psychological changes of aging. Endurance exercise boosts mood and improves sleep, countering anxiety and depression. In addition, it improves reflex time and helps stave off age-related memory loss. All in all, many of the changes that physiologists attribute to aging are actually caused by disuse. Using your body will keep it young." (Harvard Health - 2014)
Cardio exercises that increase endurance do so much for our body. Think back to when you were younger and you could run around all day, play non-stop. Sure you had more energy but your heart, body and lungs were stronger. This allowed you to keep on going. To keep playing. Cardio training would allow you to play with your kids or grandkids longer. It would allow you to spend more time on the household chores so you can get them done quicker, or not have to spend many days on them. The benefits go on and on.
Completing cardio exercises a 3-4 times a week for at least 30 minutes can drastically help in strengthening your heart.
Engaging in BALANCE exercises will strength your muscles and ligaments. It will also teach your body to balance more and in different situations. Doing this will certainly lead to less falls. Exercises for balance will help you move gracefully, avoid injuries, and prevent the falls that cripple so many older Americans.
You will also not fall as much when you participate in STRENGTH training exercises. Strength training exercises are things like bicep curls, chest press or push ups, shoulder press, squats, rows, and many more. You can do these exercises with just your body weight, dumbbells, kettle bells, resistance bands, or things that have some weight to them from around your house.
Many of these exercises translate directly to everyday activities. Squats are what you do when you have to pick your child or grandchild, dog, cat, or any object up off of the floor. A push up or chest press exercise is similar to what you have to do when you push yourself off or away from a wall, another person or the floor to get up. Any row exercise is essentially what you would be doing if you were pulling yourself toward something, or pulling an object towards you. All of these exercises would help you in your every day life and help you continue to do everything that you typically need to do.
USE IT OR LOSE IT. If you do not use your muscles they will get weaker and tighten up on you. Even moderate amounts of physical activity can have a big impact.
Maybe you don't move like you used to and your body is stiff. FLEXIBILITY is something you can, and should work on. After all, flexibility is one of the four cornerstones of movement. If you are feeling stiff, "that stiffness can be alleviated with, for example, stretching exercises that target hips, legs, shoulders, your neck, your back … anywhere. Yoga can help, too. Take it easy, though, and don’t stretch so far that it hurts." (WebMD - 2019) Stretching is an ideal way to warm up and cool down after endurance exercise.
If we want to be extremely SCIENTIFIC about things:
The cells that make up your body actually age and start to deteriorate. This helps lead to diseases, illnesses, cancer and many other things. Exercise helps to create longer telomeres, which is a marker for slower cellular aging.
Through all of this dense, scientific information, exercise has numerous benefits. Exercise has been shown in many studies to decrease your risk of heart attack, stroke, heart disease and sometimes cancer anywhere from 30%-50%!
Clearly exercise can help you stay young and healthy. The great thing about exercise is you can start right from the comfort of your own home. So there are no excuses. What are you waiting for?!?!
Links to Articles used for this blog: