We all know it… exercise is important for our body and mind. It is key to living an active, healthy and fun senior life.
Unfortnately there’s no magic pill that can get that exercise done for us. There’s some work involved if you want to slow down the aging process at the cellular level.
The New York Times explains there are exercises that are appropriate for “aging muscles,” noting that older cells don’t regenerate as quickly as young ones, and their mitochondria, which produces their energy, starts to drop off in advanced years.
There’s some evidence, however, that “certain sorts of workouts may undo some of what the years can do to our mitochondria,” especially if it’s intense exercise, notes the source.
So let’s take a look at 10 exercises from a variety of sources that have been known to slow down aging.
1. Weight Training
KindredHealthcare.com says you can add some weight to your workouts, as long as your physician approves. Whether you use your own body weight for resistance or try free weights, you can work up a good burn in your muscles, it adds.
The source says the benefits of weight lifting include fighting fat, reducing the effects of osteoporosis (brittle bones), lowering diabetes risk, improving balance, and preventing back pain, all associated with advancing years.
2. High Intensity Interval Training
This is the type of exercise is actually highlighted in the study cited by the New York Times that we mentioned earlier. Health.com cites the same study, noting high intensity interval training (HIIT) “has been the buzzy sweat method for a while now.”
This happens to be my favorite way of exercises! HIIT is a fast-paced workout that alternates “short burst of exercise” with quick recovery periods. The study had groups participating in 12-week HIIT cycling, strength training (with weights), and a combination of weights and cycling – those who completed the HIIT cycling “got the biggest benefit at the cellular level.” In fact, “older folks” in the study saw a 69-percent increase in mitochondrial capacity, it adds.
3. Proper Squats
Prevention.com says bending at the knees can slow down aging, but many elderly folks avoid it because they think their knees can’t handle the strain. But it’s about the technique, it adds.
“You squat all the time, so it’s essential that you learn to do it properly,” it explains. Women should turn their toes out slightly when squatting, and men should keep their toes pointed forward due to differences in hip structure, it explains.
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This one shouldn’t be too difficult for anyone without mobility issues, and has physical benefits – but EverydayHealth.com focuses on the mental benefits for the elderly when talking about this particular exercise.
The source says a study shows walking 72-blocks per week halts brain shrinkage and lowers the risk of cognitive decline and dementia by 50-percent!
5. Try Yoga
This may appear to be a low-impact exercise, but if you’ve ever tried an intermediate yoga class, you’ll know it’s actually pretty strenuous and requires learning breathing techniques. “Yogic breathing has been shown to oxygenate the cells, ridding them of toxins, helping prevent illness, and making skin radiant,” explains FitnessMagazine.com.
The source goes on to say that yoga poses are designed “to work the inside of your body as well as the outside,” which could help with digestive issues and even the immune system, it adds.
6. Brain Gym
Anti-aging is more than about looking more radiant and toned. It’s about keeping your mind and wit sharp, and you can use a different kind of gym to achieve those kinds of results.
Agein.com explains that Brain Gym is “a series of cognitive learning exercises that are great for all ages.” But it’s more than just concentration and memory exercises; there are movements involved in Brain Gym that a 90-year-old can do, it adds. “The integrative movements effectively develop new brain cells, while building healthy neural networks. This can help prevent or slow down neuro-degeneration diseases such as Alzheimer’s,” it explains.
Everyone likes a good soak, and getting into the pool reduces the weight on your joints and makes getting a workout easier – especially if you have arthritis.
In fact, EverydayHealth.com says a Canadian study shows that for patients with osteoarthritis of the hip, swimming reduces the risk of falling and breaking a bone. “Swimming also has other anti-aging benefits such as easing arthritis pain and boosting mobility,” it adds.
8. Tai Chi
This traditional Chinese martial art can take years off your age at a cellular level, according to a National Post article from 2014. It points to a study that followed 3-groups of participants under 25-years old who participated in Tai Chi (compared to brisk walking or nothing at all).
The source says researchers found the biggest benefit in the Tai Chi group relating to “a stem cell important to a number of the body’s functions and structures.” Tai Chi has also been confirmed to benefit patients with moderate Parkinson’s disease and fibromyalgia, it adds.
9. Balance Training
Huffington Post says you should focus on balance when you’re advancing in age, as falling “can lead to broken bones or head trauma.” It suggests a couple of exercises for improving your balance through movement, ensuring you’ve cleared an adequate space for yourself to do them and have had your fitness level assessed.
One suggestion is the “single-leg balance and reach,” which involves keeping your upper body steady while reaching to the side and to the back with 1-leg, but you can also make it a bit easier by shifting your weight from 1-leg to the other and then building up to balancing on 1-leg.
10. Just Get Moving
Okay, so you can hit the gym for a proper workout (and possibly the help of a personal trainer), but Best Health explains a study out of McMaster University in Ontario shows that activity that helps you break a sweat regularly can take years off your appearance.
Apparently the key is the production of myokines, proteins produced by muscle cells and carried throughout the body, which improve complexion. The source says the study found women over 65 who exercise for a minimum of 2-hours per week for 3-months “had the skin composition of women 20 to 30-years younger.”
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