While the physical benefits of working out are well-known, there is a strong link between aging and exercise. In fact, incorporating physical activity into your routine has been touted to promote a longer, healthier life.
If hoping to reverse aging, exercises may not be able to exactly turn back the hands of time, though they can certainly mitigate the effects of aging on the body.
10 Exercises to Reduce the Effects of Aging
1. Aerobic Exercise for Heart Health
Also known as cardiovascular exercise or simply “cardio,” aerobic exercise is any exercise that elevates heart and breathing rates. While cardio offers many benefits, including weight management and, its mostly known to support heart health.
Elevating heart rate can help improve blood flow to the heart and lungs and encourage healthy blood pressure levels. Controlled blood pressure lessens the risk of heart attack, stroke, and dementia.
According to the American Heart Association’s journal Circulation, in previously sedentary healthy middle-aged adults, two years of exercise training improved maximal oxygen uptake and decreased cardiac stiffness in previously sedentary healthy middle-aged adults.
Regular exercise training may provide protection against the future risk of heart failure with a preserved ejection fraction by preventing the increase in cardiac stiffness attributable to sedentary aging.
2. Light Jogging for Longer Living
In addition to supporting heart health, light jogging may extend precious years of life. A study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology (ACC) evaluated exercise patterns over over 5,000 healthy participants enrolled in the Copenhagen City Heart Study.
The researchers found jogging from 1 to 2.4 hours per week was associated with the lowest mortality risk and the optimal frequency of jogging was no more than three times per week. Furthermore, the study eventually associated that strenuous joggers were as likely to die as sedentary non-joggers.
3. Walking for Better Memory
In addition to compromised physical fitness, the mind is at risk of declining. Those who keep on walking may be able to enhance cognition and stave from mental decline, especially when it comes to memory formation and performance.
Furthermore, researchers from the University of Maryland enrolled 16 healthy elders and another 16 elders diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment to participate in a 12-week exercise intervention, which included walking for 30 minutes four times a week at a 50 to 60 percent of heart rate reserve. Following the intervention, both groups showed an improved ability to remember a list of words.
Those with MCI also demonstrated improvements in the brain’s posterior cingulate cortex (PCC)/precuneus region, which is a hub of neuronal networks which integrates and disperses signals. “We know that a loss of connectivity to this hub is associated with memory loss and amyloid accumulation, both signs of MCI and Alzheimer’s,” states senior author Dr. J. Carson Smith.
4. Resistance Training for Muscle Preservation
As the body changes, seniors tend to lose precious muscle mass while fat mass takes its place. The swap not only causes a slower metabolism, but lessens senior strength and increases their risk for falls and injuries.
Fortunately, especially in conjuction with a balanced diet with adequate protein, the effects of aging can be reversed with the incorporation of resistance training. Grow stronger with this strength-training guide prepared by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), featuring helpful tips, steps, and programs for successful and safe weight lifting.
5. Weight-Bearing Exercise for Bone Support
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Osteoporosis and Related Bone Diseases National Resource Center, the best exercise for your bones is the weight-bearing kind, which forces you to work against gravity. Weight-baring exercises include weight training, walking, hiking, jogging, climbing stairs, tennis, and dancing, which already bare their own bounty of benefits.
What’s more, weight-bearing exercise help protect against bone loss, subsequently keeping bones strong and reducing the likelihood of falls.
6. Leg Exercises for Edema
Edema is when fluid builds up underneath the tissues and causes swelling. If left unmanaged, changes in the skin, pain and inflammation can occur. While there are numerous causes of edema, including congestive heart failure and kidney disease, it is relatively a relatively common effect of aging.
Edema severity can be mitigated with leg exercises, including calf and ankle muscle pumps, calf stretches and strengthening, and walking.
7. Swimming to Ease Arthritic Symptoms
When managing arthritis symptoms, the last thing you want to do might be exercising. However, most healthcare professionals discourage the notion of “taking it easy” when it comes to effectively managing arthritis.
In reality, physical activity can help mitigate such effects. But unlike strenuous weight-bearing exercises, swimming can be a low-impact, gentle exercise to ease arthritis pain. As an added bonus, weight loss can take excess pressure off the joints and relieve symptoms.
8. Yoga for Emotional Health
The calming and restoring impacts of yoga supports emotional health, including reducing feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression. If negative emotions are left unmanaged, they can transpire to chronic stress on the body and even accelerate the aging process.
Yoga also improves flexibility, balance, and strength, along with supporting heart, bone, bowel, and overall health.
9. Pilates to Reduce Back Pain
A majority of older adults suffer from lower back pain, though core exercises help stretch and strengthen the muscles that support lower back and reduce back pain.
Along with supporting stability and flexibility, pilates targets and activates the core muscles while serving as gentle, low-impact exercise. Attend local classes in the local area or practice this pilates instructional video in the comfort of your own home.
10. Tai Chi for Balance
The fluid, gentle movements of the ancient Chinese practice is promoted for all ages, in which tai chi is shown to strengthen the body and encourage the mind-body connection.
Tai chi also helps improve and support balance, which in turn reduces the risk of tripping and falling, lessening the likelihood of minor or major injuries, and preserving independence amongst seniors.
While group classes are generally offered locally, various DVD tai chi programs allow seniors to stay at home. An example program includes Dr. Paul Lam’s Thai Chi for Health, as his lessons have been recommended by the Centers of Disease Control (CDC), Arthritis Foundations, and other numerous organizations.
So, what’s the best exercise for overall health?
With so many options and advantages, what is the best exercise for overall health? Truly, the answer lies within yourself, as the best exercise is the one you will regularly do. Fortunately, there are guidelines to help get you geared towards a longer, healthier life.
Anti-Aging Exercise Tips
First off, general guidelines encourage 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per week. While that might sound overwhelming, especially if regular exercise is not part of your routine, these tips help make those 150 minutes much more manageable:
• Consult with Your Doctor: Always talk with your primary care provider before jumping into any new exercise regimen. Working with a physical therapist or personal trainer can also help ensure safe movements for to prevent against injury and optimize each function.
• Start Slow: If new to the exercise scene or have taken a break, start slow into any sort of workout regimen. As you get accustomed to the movements and build strength, increase the frequency and intensity of the routine.
• Break Up the 150 Minutes: Meet the weekly physical activity guidelines by breaking it into 20 to 30-minute sessions each day. Activities that count include running, walking, cycling, gardening, and housework.
• Avoid Overdoing It: More is not always better, especially when it comes to exercise. Most of the evidence supporting the benefits of exercise call for moderation, as too much of or intensity can actually increase inflammation within the body.
• Exercise with A Workout Buddy: Exercising with a workout buddy not only keeps you both accountable, but makes the journey more enjoyable and fun!