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We all want to stay young. And while we may not be able to look 22 forever, there are exercises we day start today to help you feel younger, with energy to spare throughout the years.
“Fitness is a youth serum,” says physical therapist and fitness expert Maureen Hagan. “Fitness affects how youthful you look, the way you move, and your ability to do whatever you want, whenever.”
Hagan has been training clients for more than 20 years with a focus on active aging, and is also a regularly published research reviewer on the same topic.
Here are 7 exercises Hagen suggests that you can start today to keep you full of energy and doing the things you love. But don’t worry, you’re not about to overhaul your favorite workout. No matter how old you are or what you like to do for exercise, you can use these secrets to move better, protect yourself from injury, and feel younger.
Ever hear that you can’t change your genes? That’s only partially true. While you can’t change your genetic makeup, you can change how certain genes are expressed—that is, how much they do whatever they do. And strength training is one of the best ways to do that. Only 26 weeks of resistance training reverses the aging process at the genetic level, research shows. “You can actually train your tissues to behave the way they did when you were younger,” Hagan says. Furthermore, resistance training preserves muscle mass that we typically lose as we age—5 pounds per decade, on average. (We also gain an average of 10 pounds of fat per decade. “That’s certainly not fair! It should at least be even!” Hagan says. Agreed!)
Exercise is a physical crossword puzzle, Hagan likes to say. The more activity you can do that also engages your brain, the better. These can involve reaction training (such as playing tennis or racquetball), memorizing choreography (like you would in step class or Zumba), and changing direction (common in step, kickboxing, and dance classes).
While U.S. guidelines call for 150 minutes of cardio per week, Hagan’s examination of research found that 240 minutes per week is optimal for heart health. Aerobic activity improves mitochondrial function (the work of energy-producing organelles in cells), which typically decreases with age. Four hours of cardio a week sound like too much? “If you don’t have much time, interval training is one of the most efficient ways to exercise at high enough levels to improve aerobic fitness,” Hagan says.
Include some moves where you cross your legs and arms over the midline of your body. Why? The connection between the right and left hemispheres of your brain deteriorates as you age, which causes “brain farts” (technical name: brain delays) as the hemispheres have trouble communicating with one another, Hagan explains. Crossing limbs forces the two sides of your brain to talk to one another, strengthening the connection between hemispheres. (How cool is that?)
A lot of older people are afraid to jump because it’ll hurt the knees or hips. “But that’s bogus, because you need to jump in everyday life, and you need impact to build bone density,” Hagan says. That doesn’t mean you need to take up Insanity (a DVD series known for crazy-intense jumping moves). A “forceful step” like you’re squishing a bug is enough impact to make a difference. Think of forceful stepping any time you lunge, squat, or march.
The average American walks only 2,000 steps per day, but experts recommend 10,000. “7,500 steps a day is what Canadians call the BAM, or ‘bare you-know-what minimum’, for health,” Hagan says. Studies show that merely tracking your steps doubles how many you take, so strap on your Favorite Fitness Trackers and see if you can beat your count every day.
There you go, The top 8 anti aging exercises to do right now!
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