5 exercises to keep an aging body strong and fit
When one is young, the exercise it can enable you to run a race after a sleepless night or go snowboarding while on a diet of Doritos. But as you get older, exercise has a much greater impact: increases energy levels, prevents injuries and keeps you mentally alert.
Aging makes muscles lose mass, low bone density, and joint stiffness, affecting balance, coordination, and strength. At the same time, hormonal changes and persistent low-level inflammation can set the stage for chronic diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular diseases and diabetes.
And the changes begin sooner than one imagines. Muscles begin to shrink at age 30 and continue their downward spiral into middle agewith up to 25 percent of their maximum mass lost by the time they reach 60 years of age.
But there is hope: exercise can halt muscle loss, cognitive decline, and fatigue. “It’s never too late to start exercising, and it’s never too early,” said Chhanda Dutta, a gerontologist at the National Institute on Aging.
However, you can’t just start deadlifting 150 pounds in the gym. Start slowly, experimenting and gradually increasing the intensity.
Experts suggest Try exercises that target one or more of the four fitness categories, all of which deteriorate with age: flexibility, balance, endurance, and strength. Preserving function in these domains can prevent injury and disability, keeping you active and independent for longer.
There is no magic full-body exercise to prevent aging.said Dr. Brian Feeley, chief of sports medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. Here are five moves targeting different areas of the body to try.
During the exercise, “injuries occur when you are fatigued and your muscles cannot react as quickly”said Dr. Feeley. The squats They help prevent this fatigue by strengthening the large muscles of the lower body while moving multiple joints at once, improving overall endurance as well as balance and coordination.
Dr. Feeley suggests doing three series of 10 to 15 squats four times a week. To further challenge your balance, you can do them with one foot or both feet on a pillow. Or to focus on strength, an alternative is to squat while holding weights close to your chest to start.
If you hate squats, but still want to strengthen the same muscle groups, you can try climbing stairs that adapt at different levels of fitness said Dr. Maria Fiatarone Singh, a geriatrician at the University of Sydney. The ideal is to start by going up and down the stairs, and then more difficulty can be added by using ankle weights or increasing the pace of climbing.
For added difficulty, the stairs can be climbed by hopping on one or two feet, holding onto the handrail if necessary for safety. “Jumping is a power movement for the hip and knee extensors”, similar to the power training of box jumps, said Dr. Fiatarone Singh. If you’re short on time, you can turn it into a high-intensity exercise with four four-minute sessions of high-intensity exertion, resting three minutes between sessions, four times a week.
Don’t have that much time to exercise? “Even four minutes, four days a week significantly improves aerobic capacity”said Dr. Fiatarone Singh.
As a cross-country ski enthusiast, Dr. Michael Schaefer, a rehabilitation physician at Cleveland University Hospitals, loves the nordic walkinga exercise using ergonomic poles, but it does not require being surrounded by snow.
“Nordic walking is unparalleled as aerobic exercise because It not only uses the major muscle groups in the legs and hips, but also the core, shoulders and arms.”said Dr. Schaefer. He regime lowers blood pressure and improves the body’s use of oxygen. And when traversing hills or uneven terrain, it strengthens the ankles and challenges the vestibular system, a sensory system housed in the inner ear that improves balance and coordination.
“Start with 15 to 20 minutes three times a week and build up to an hour”advised Dr. Schaefer.
The basic movement (walking using poles to power the movement) can take some getting used to, but the videos online or the local nordic walking group they can help you get started. The key is to swing your arms like pendulums on a clock, keeping your elbows relatively straight and planting your cane behind you. and pushing as the opposite leg moves forward.
Gillian Stewart, Program Manager for Nordic Walking UK, recommended buy nordic walking poles, since they are inclined according to the position that is taken during the exercise. In a pinch, Dr. Schaefer said, “regular walking poles would work, but ski poles wouldn’t.”
If Katy Bowman, a kinesiologist, had her way, everyone’s New Year’s resolution would include a trip through the bars of a handrail “It’s such a primitive movement, and it uses every part of our upper body that are otherwise not used very often,” said Ms. Bowman, author of “Rethinking Your Position . “
hang yourself of a horizontal bar improves grip strength and shoulder mobility, strengthens the core, and stretches the upper bodyfrom the chest to the spine and forearms.
As with any exercise, it’s best to progress slowly: it’s suggested to start by hanging from a bar with your feet flat on a box or chair so that muscles that aren’t used to carrying a load can get used to taking some stress. From there, you must proceed to an active hang, in which the shoulder blades are retracted and pulled downward (as if about to start a pull-up), core and arms are engaged, and hands are shoulder-width apart.
A slight front to back or right to left rocking can be added to further work the core and spine. Or challenge the grip (hands facing toward you or outward) to emphasize different muscles. An undergrip, for example, loads the biceps more than an overgrip, which works the lats.
And no fancy hanging equipment is needed. Ms. Bowman suggested creating a hanging stationGet in the home with a “pull-up bar in the entrance of the house that does not take up much space”. Since installing one, he said, he’s noticed a “radical” increase in upper body and grip strength.which is related to a decrease in cardiovascular mortality. Practicing it little also helps a lot: you can start with a 20 second hold, twice a day, working up to a full minute.
“Your best bet for progress is shorter, more frequent breaks spread throughout the day,” said Ms. Bowman. Once you’re comfortable with minute breaks, he recommends doing eight to 10, with an hour’s rest in between. These breaks also give the skin on your hands some time to adjust.
If you work in an office or at a desk, all that time sitting can affect your hip flexors, the muscles that help bend your knees toward your waist and stabilize the spine. And slouching over a desk shortens your chest muscles while lengthening your back muscles, contributing to text collarwhich is muscle tightness and weakness in the lower neck, shoulders, and upper back.
To counter this, Nicole Sciacca, a mobility specialist in Los Angeles, combines “mountain climbers” –mountain climbers in Spanish- with sliders, small discs on which you rest your hands or feet that slide freely across the floor (or can be used paper plates). Training on an unstable surface increases the intensity The exercisewhich forces the core to be involved, especially the diaphragm, the transversus abdominis and the pelvic floor, to maintain the position.
“It’s great because asks everything in the front of the body that has been sleeping at a desk or in a car to get strongersaid Ms. Sciacca.
If one is new to upper body and core work, Ms. Sciacca suggests hold an iron or plank for 30 seconds. Once you feel comfortable you can place your feet on the sliders, assume the same position, and work to stay stable.
To progress, move one foot under the body until the knee reaches the chest. Then slide that foot back as the other foot enters. Must be continue alternating feet up to three rounds of eight repetitions, keeping the core strong and the back straight. Or you can try doing a 60-second timed effort when you’re ready for more. Variations include bring knees in and out at the same time or move legs out in a jumping motion.
Tala Khalaf, a physical therapist at Stanford in Palo Alto, California, thinks of fascia—a connective tissue system that surrounds muscles and organs—as the Cinderella of orthopedic medicine. For years, this tissue, which is studded with sensory nerves and can appear to wrap around muscles or lie within them, worked in the dark, ignored.
But the Research in the last decade has highlighted fascial tissue as a crucial component of system musculoskeletal. As we age, the fascia becomes less flexible and elastic. what contributes to back pain, stiffness and a limited range of motion.
Dr. Khalaf, who is also in Stanford’s Orthopedic Physical Therapy Clinical Residency Program, said that one solution was the foam roller, which massages fascial kinks and improves flexibility. Best of all, the basic moves are simple and time efficient. Typical areas to roll include the calves, thighs, and back.
If all of the above is taken into account, aiming to exercise at least five days a week. Dr. Feeley recommends mix and match exercises that hit all four dimensions of fitnessbut points out that its components can be rearranged, according to the tastes and preferences of what each one wants to improve.