How Exercise Can Help You Age Well

How Exercise Can Help You Age Well

How Exercise Can Help You Age Well?


Exercise: The Best Anti-Ager

Want to look and feel your best well into your 40, 50s, 60s and beyond? Forget about spending money on the latest anti-aging creams and lotions. Instead, invest your time and energy in an exercise plan.

“If you’re involved in regular physical activity, you are doing some really amazing things for your body,” says Dr. Greg Wells, an assistant professor in the faculty of kinesiology and physical education at the University of Toronto.

For starters, the very act of breathing harder has an impact on better health. You breathe harder, says Dr. Wells, because your body needs oxygen to improve all aspects of your oxygen transport pathways, including your lungs, heart and muscles. “Exercise helps make almost every tissue in your body healthier and better,” he says. That means feeling and looking better inside and out – a veritable fountain-of-youth effect.

In fact, says Jonathan P. Little, an assistant professor and a specialist in exercise physiology at the University of British Columbia, Okanagan, recent studies on exercise and aging are changing the way we think about getting older. “There’s research to suggest that maybe what we think of as normal aging – losing fitness and muscle mass – has more to do with inactivity,” says Little. “As you age, you tend to not be as active, so maybe some of what we thought was the aging process is just a lack of activity.”

In addition, says Dr. Wells, there’s evidence that links regular physical activity to a decreased risk of chronic illnesses, such as cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s and certain types of cancer. And the good news is, you don’t have to run marathons to reap the benefits. Walking, cycling, swimming, yoga, golf and other lifestyle activities will boost your body and your brain. The key, say the experts, is consistency.
With that in mind, here’s a look at how exercise can keep you healthy, fit and looking and feeling younger, whatever your age.

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Simple Ways to Improve Your Balance

Simple Ways to Improve Your Balance



How to improve balance? When you get older, nobody’s laughing about balance—falling is one of the most serious medical problems facing old people.

In fact, balance is a crucial survival skill, but it’s also perishable. The muscles we use to stand tall weaken ever so gradually after we hit 30 (yes, only 30). The length of our stride shortens, the pace of our steps slows, and vision—critical to coordination—becomes fuzzier. Even menopause can make our gait a tad more wobbly.  Aging, however, isn’t the only reason people lose their sense of stability. Balance is really ‘use it or lose it. You can maintain it if you stay active.

How well we keep our balance in midlife can protect us from what lies ahead: One in three adults over age 65 takes a serious tumble each year. Avoiding falls means a longer life: About 20% of women who fracture a hip become permanently disabled, and another 20% die within a year. In fact, health problems linked to hip fractures result in more women’s deaths each year than breast cancer does.

But an enhanced sense of stability doesn’t just help protect you from future falls. There are immediate health benefits—better mobility, fewer injuries, greater capacity to push yourself harder during workouts—that increase overall fitness.

The problem is that people are often unaware that their coordination is slipping. While there are hallmarks of clumsiness—such as poor handwriting and constantly banged-up shins and knees—even naturally agile people need to work to boost balance with age. Balance is a separate system, just like strength or flexibility. You can improve it if you continue to challenge it.

Walk heel to toe

The same sobriety field test cops give drunk drivers also improves balance. Take 20 steps forward, heel to toe. Then walk backward, with toe to heel, in a straight line.

Do squats

Sturdy legs can help prevent a stumble from turning into a fall. To build quads, start with a simple squat: With feet hip-width apart, bend knees and hips and slowly lower yourself as if sitting in a chair behind you. Keep arms straight out, abs tight, back straight, and knees above shoelaces. Stop when thighs are parallel to the floor (or as close as you can get), then contract glutes as you stand back up. Aim for 3 sets of 10, with a 1-minute break after each set.

Practice the force

It takes muscle strength to get out of a chair, but it takes muscle force to do it quickly. That force—the ability to get your leg in the right place in a nanosecond—is important in preventing falls. We lose muscle force faster than strength, and according to new research, it takes older women longer to build it back up. Try this move: Instead of gingerly rising from a chair, once in a while leap out of it so forcefully that you need to take a few running steps after you do so. (You can use your arms to gain momentum.) The explosiveness of that action builds power. Side-to-side and back-to-front muscle movements have the same effect, such as when you play tennis or basketball.