Not only does staying physically active help to keep you healthy and functional as you grow older, many of the changes commonly associated with aging can be slowed or even reversed with regular exercise. Body composition changes with age – body fat increases while muscle mass and bone density decrease. These changes are at least partially due to a lack of physical activity. There are three pillars to making the most of the anti-aging benefits of exercise:
1. Flexibility - Incorporating a discipline such as Yoga, Pilates or balance exercises will work wonders to maintain and improve your flexibility. These will also help to strengthen your core muscles, which will improve your functional strength and enhance your performance in all areas of exercise. However, ensure that you stretch properly before and after exercising to reduce the risk of injury.
2. Cardiovascular fitness - Cardiovascular exercise can help to reduce weight. But that’s not all: it strengthens the heart and lungs, helps to lower cholesterol, reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes, improves immune function, and lowers blood pressure. As you get older, add more variety to your cardio workouts so you aren’t working the same muscles over and over and placing repeated high-impact stress on your joints. Alternate high-impact exercise with lower impact workouts like spinning or stepping.
3. Resistance training - Resistance training is a key weapon in combatting sarcopenia and should form a central part of your exercise programme. Examples include swimming, which provides constant resistance exercise as you battle against the water to propel your body forward, exercises which use your own body weight as resistance, such as press ups or sit ups, and exercises such as bicep curls whilst using weights or resistance bands.
Remember... Physical activity can add not only years to your life, but life to your years!