Aging is inevitable, but we do not need to fall into the trap of aging, feeling worse, lowering energy, and gaining weight. We can feel vital, strong and amazing as we age, we just need to take action! One of those actions we can take is physical exercise: it positively impacts longevity, increases prevention of metabolic syndrome, prevents muscle wasting and also mobilizes stem cells.
In order to fight aging it will take time and effort there is no ‘secret’ or magic pill but rather, like all things we want to improve, it will take consistent effort over and over again.
In my mind, I am happy with that because I know what it feels like to feel awful. Putting in the effort to consistently feel good is worth every second and every drop of sweat. As we age, this does not change but rather becomes more important, it can become harder to get up and exercise but that does not change the fact that it is very much worth it.
5 Key Reasons to Exercise Over 40
1. Exercise Combats Sarcopenia
During the process of aging, our metabolism slows down, making it easier to gain fat and lose muscle. Muscle mass starts to typically decline after the age of 30 and, on average, by age 80 40% of muscle mass is lost. Sarcopenia refers to the age-related loss of muscle mass and the corresponding loss of strength, it is evident that if action is not taken this is inevitable.
This means we need to integrate resistance training to stimulate the muscles to maintain muscle and build it as well. Lean muscle mass is vital to longevity it helps to keep us insulin sensitive, more metabolically active and able to function on our own without the need for the help of others.
2. Exercise Improves Oxygen Uptake
Another good measure is VO2 max, which is the maximal oxygen uptake and is often referred to as maximal aerobic capacity and is a great indicator of cardiorespiratory fitness. VO2 max tends to decline like muscle mass with age. By keeping up VO2 max we help to keep our heart healthy and strong as we age. Some cardio is a good idea to keep in the routine to go along with the resistance training.
3. Exercise Can Lead Cell Regeneration
It Is also important to add in some intense exercise as well, this can be done through anaerobic threshold training or HIIT workouts, as vigorous exercise stimulates the production of mesenchymal-like stem cells (MSCs) in the muscle and bone marrow. MSCs are extremely powerful they can significantly influence regenerative processes and in some diseases, they lead to a successful regeneration of the damaged tissue.
4. Exercise Fights Insulin Resistance
Exercise also helps to promote insulin sensitivity which is critical to longevity. When we become insulin resistant we gain weight more easily and our blood sugar levels can go all over the place. In order to counteract insulin resistance exercise is vitally important, exercise helps to increase the GLUT4 glucose transporter in muscle cells following exercise. The GLUT4 transporter helps to get sugars into the cells and GLUT4 rich cellular membranes are very responsive to insulin, meaning by exercising we increase our insulin sensitivity.
5. Exercise Can Reduce Chronic Inflammation
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In the elderly levels of chronic inflammation markers tend to be higher. Chronic inflammation has wide-spread negative effects on the body and how it functions from impairing the immune system to mental health. Exercise is an amazing and effective intervention that lowers levels of chronic inflammation, helping to battle harmful effects of aging.
A study that came out last year examining 5823 adults found that those that were high activity had a biologic age advantage of 9 years over those who were sedentary and the difference in cell age in the high activity vs low activity was 8.8 years, clearly exercise does keep us young and feeling good.
The Best Exercises You Can Do to Stay Fit (Video Tutorials)
There are a lot of options available for what exercises to do out there but the best bang for our buck exercises are compound exercises which means using multiple joints at the same time. This places a load on a variety of muscles at the same time causing them all to have to adapt to that loading. Now there are three ways we can load a muscle that is either through moving an object think of doing a bicep curl, carrying an object like carrying heavy groceries to the car or holding an object which also falls into the grocery carry category.
This means we want not only compound movements but a variety of the holds, carries and loads. Here are my 5 exercises that I love to help maintain and build muscle mass while you’re aging.
#1. Sandbag or Goblet Squat
#2. Farmer’s Carry
#3. Lat Pull-downs or Pull-ups
#4. Tripod Row
Wait! Before You Start…
Endurance exercise (aka cardio) helps to keep up cardiovascular capacity (VO2 max) and a variety of options available, hiking, biking, running, swimming, rowing, etc. The key to cardiovascular training is doing an activity you enjoy. I have noticed that if one receives no joy out of the activity when it comes to cardio chances are one will not stick with it long term.
It is also a good idea to mix in some of the others from time to time to challenge your body in new ways. These traditional cardiovascular activities can also help to preserve and maintain muscle mass, for example, swimmers typically have strong and large backs, bikers have large quads, etc. The key to stay consistent with it and do it at least one time per week to mix in with strength training.
As stated another great option to counteract aging is vigorous exercise as it can not only promote stem cell production but also help build to build muscle mass and our VO2 max. Vigorous exercise, this can be something like anaerobic threshold training (sled sprints), HIIT workouts (ex. Tabata), hill sprints, etc.
Vigorous exercise can be very stressful on the system so it is not ideal to be doing on a daily basis 2 to 3 times per week is more than enough to get the amazing benefits from vigorous exercise. The movements included in vigorous movements are best to be simple and not complex, that way when we get tired we do not increase the risk of injury.
There are lots of options on how to be physically active on a daily basis and if you are just starting out then taking small steps is not a bad thing like going for a walk each day. If you feel intimidated by the thought of starting an exercise program then I highly recommend hiring a trainer, I personally believe that everyone should hire a coach or trainer to help them out, as they push us harder then we would otherwise ourselves and push us out of our comfort zones.
Heck, I even use a remote trainer to keep me honest in my training even though I am a trainer myself, coaches still need coaches. If you are looking for help or have questions on how to start, feel free to book a free consultation with me to discuss.
Aging is inevitable but that doesn’t mean letting it take away our happiness, physical capacity, and health, we can take steps to stop this and a big one is physically exercising regularly in whatever capacity we are capable of.
By exercising we boost stem cell production, increase insulin sensitivity, decrease cellular aging, lower inflammation markers, build muscle, increase our VO2 max and last but not least increase our ability to do the things we love each day!
“Every journey starts with a single step” Maya Angelou.
This fantastic article was written by The Healthy Happy Coach, Joshua Graham (Fitness Expert and Nutritionist). Connect with him on Facebook at The Healthy Happy Coach.
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