The second factor that has a powerful impact on the aging of the human body is exercise. Following are examples of just how much it influences the pace at which you age, AND how significantly it can slow the aging process. Watch and read.
The power of a regular fitness routine…
As we discussed in Part One of this article, aging is a natural process that you go through at your own pace. Some people age at a faster rate than others, and this is determined by the overall fitness of the body, medical conditions, and normal wear and tear of the body. The rate at which each person ages is related to genetics, heredity and/or lifestyle choices.
But once you understand how the body ages in general, you can take proactive steps to protect and preserve your physical and mental health as long as possible, and enjoy enhanced quality of life and longevity. But there are two factors that you have control over that can greatly speed up or dramatically slow down the aging process. One is diet/nutrition. The second is exercise.
Exercise: The Primary Factor That Reverses Age-Related & Functional Decline of The Body
First and foremost, the human body is a marvelous, intelligent piece of machinery. Build into its incredible, intricate design is the fact that it is a demand-driven, adaptable, living organism that requires movement and muscular activity to maintain its function.
Consider what happens to someone who has been bed-ridden for a month or more: muscle mass, flexibility, strength, bone density and range of motion all drop like a downed helicopter, in just a matter of days. The unseen effects are equally damaging. Every organ in the body reduces it function and slows its activity—further proof that lack of movement is devastating to the human body.
The ability to slow the aging process is accomplished by doing things that inhibit the damage from these aging mechanisms or slow the rate at which the damage is done. In some cases there is hope that specific types of damage can actually be reversed, and we could, in fact, grow younger in some respects. You’ve seen the stories of the 100 year old Chinese man or woman, still tending the rice paddy, wondering what all the fuss is over being that old. They still ride a bike to work and enjoy life with their family five generations deep. The primary difference is that they never stopped moving.
Watch the following video as proof that regular exercise can keep you looking and feeling youthful.
Along with the improved ability to move, many other changes will take place inside the body. Blood sugar levels will regulate downward and remain more even, stored fat will be reduced, insulin sensitivity will improve, blood pressure will come down and your heart will get stronger. Your vascular system will actually start building collateral arteries around blocked vessels, improving blood flow to your heart and other organs. The body’s repair mechanisms speed up, things heal faster, the immune system gets stronger. You get sick less often and you recover more quickly from virtually every malady.
Following are some are the most effective forms of exercise you can incorporate into your lifestyle. Some are more effective than others for restoring or maintaining strength and fitness for seniors. They are:
Weight Training – to trigger your anabolic, or muscle-building process; muscle you need to look good and move well, be stronger than you look and dissolve fat 24 hours a day. Weight training with progressive resistance is the most effective form of exercise for delaying age-related
decline. Nothing works to reverse age-related functional decline as well and as rapidly as this. Weight lifting increases the production of testosterone (the hormone of your youth, which is needed in both men and women for maintaining muscle structure), increases Growth Hormone output, lowers blood sugar, encourages the burning of fat for energy, improves immune system function, makes bones stronger and more dense, and lets your entire body function on the level of a person decades younger. If you make progressive resistance weight training the core of your exercise regime, then all other forms of exercise will be easy to do.
Aerobics– to maintain and recover your heart/lung/vascular fitness. Aerobic exercise is necessary for maintaining heart-lung-vascular fitness for life. However, some approaches to aerobics are more productive than others, with regard to the changes that take place with aging. Aerobic exercises such as brisk walking, swimming, and cycling are great cardio/aerobic exercises for seniors. Walking and cycling can give your heart, lungs and muscles a good workout while being easy on your joints. Water-based exercises can improve the mood, decrease anxiety and improve joints affected by arthritis without making symptoms worse. These activities are the best way to keep the heart, lungs and muscles fit for life.
Yoga, Pilates, Stretching & Balance – Building poise, posture, flexibility, strength, endurance, balance and grace, while connecting with the spirit within. The importance of posture, fluidity of motion, flexibility and balance are undeniable in terms of aging gracefully. Balance becomes extremely important as we age because most bone fractures are caused by falls, and these types of exercise maintain our sense of balance and agility.
Don’t be tricked into thinking that yoga and pilates are not strenuous. They build a strength that is more evident in the grace of movement, more like a dancer than the sinew and bones look of the marathoner or the bulging bulk of a power lifter. Ancient martial art forms, such as Tai-Chi employ moves that are useful for combat, in which the elements of speed and precise movement foster improvements in balance and how quickly you physically react. Tai-Chi and other milder forms of exercise, are highly suitable for maintaining posture, flexibility, strength, endurance, and balance, which are essential to seniors’ physical health.
You have a decision to make. You can choose to lie on the couch, watch TV, drink beer and eat potato chips with all your spare time, and the debilitating effects of aging will overtake you like a Mongolian army. But, if you make the decision to move—to walk, run, dance, stretch, lift weights, and play games that require physical motion etc., the losses due to aging will reverse. By incorporating a fitness routine into your daily life, and eating healthy nutritious foods, the benefits you receive will be great and the rewards–immeasurable. Watch.