A new study published by Mayo Clinic found that exercising for short-term results such as endurance exercise for weight loss, or ultra-heavy weight lifting to beef up — may actually be counterproductive for longevity and health.
The key to sustainable amazing fitness is through a resistance exercise program that focuses on developing the five traits associated with youthfulness: FLEXIBILTY, SPEED, STRENGTH, GOOD POSTURE, and LEANNESS. When people engage in the right kind of exercise, they don’t become haggard, sore, injured, tired, and stiff. What’s more, resistance exercises, when done correctly, help people feel better and live longer.
No matter what your age — even if you start at 80 — it’s possible to regain the size, flexibility, and medical markers of a much younger person. Three decades of research and experience of trainers and athletes have shown us that just 30 minutes a day of speed-lifting light hand weights or body resistance work (power yoga, circuit training, resistance bands, pilates), a regular practice of managing stress (meditation, 30 mins cardio exercise, gratitude, having fun), and eating healthfully can make your whole body flexible, strong, fast, lean, and properly aligned — all components of youthfulness.
Here are five ways to look and feel younger, regardless of your chronological age.
1. Get flexible.
Flexibility is the capacity of the muscles and tendons to elongate or shorten for the purpose of movement, which moves the bones in key parts of the body. We lose flexibility because of how we live, not because we age. One way to regain flexibility is to do a variety of stretches every day until you eventually can stand from a full squat, or bend over and touch your toes, or bring your nose to your knees sitting with your legs outstretched.
2. Be strong.
When we age, our muscles tend to atrophy and our joints tend to wear away. Eventually we become weaker and slower, and we develop chronic pain and are vulnerable to osteoporosis and brittle bones. The best way to get strong is to do significant weight bearing exercise such as lifting weights or using our own body weight (circuit training, strong yoga, resistance bands, etc). It’s better for the body to lift light weights quickly than to lift heavy weights slowly. This is how you build up flexible, strong muscles.
3. Speed up.
One of the hallmarks of old age is slowing down. When we age, we walk slower, get out of chairs and cars slower, and react more slowly. Our reflexes are delayed, which can lead to falling. But you can become faster at any age. One way to start getting faster is simply to speed up! Every time you take a walk, push yourself a little…. to extend your speed. This might mean breaking into a jog or a sprint for 10 seconds or so, intermittently.
4. Get lean.
Leanness is the optimal percentage of fat to muscle. When people age, they lose muscle and gain fat, which can trigger a cascade of health problems. Some simple ways to lose fat, but not muscle, are to eat twice as many fruits and vegetables as any other food at lunch and dinner and eat nutritionally complete foods at every snack and meal — foods with protein, sugar, fiber, minerals, and vitamins in the right proportions. Avoid endurance exercising like stationary biking or treadmilling for burning calories. This can just wear out your joints.
5. Good posture.
For good posture, all weightlifters end their training sessions by decompressing their spines. To fight the forces of gravity — the stooping and slumping one often sees in elderly people — daily decompression of the spine is crucial. We recommend inversion postures or even a table (which — a piece of equipment you lie on with your feet hooked under at the top and your head at the end tilting downward, gently stretching out your spine). Yoga has a range of inversion postures that can do done within a routine. Also lifting light weights and doing floor exercises can strengthen your back and abdomen, helping you stand and sit erect.
Keep strong, be amazing!