[Written by Peter Nielsen].
The most common reasons for adopting an exercise regimen are improved health and weight loss or gain. Additionally, many people target specific areas in their quest for perfect abdomenals or aim for an overall sculpted look. One terrific result we don’t hear of often is the striking anti-aging effects of a fitness program. Conversely, a sedentary lifestyle actually speeds up the rate of aging! What are the components of an anti-aging fitness program?
Strength training has become accepted as the single most effective type of exercise for longevity because it increases the amount of lean body mass, or muscle, an important guard against an overall decline in health and quality of life. Resistance or strength training does several things that are critical to an antiaging system. First it builds muscle, and the more muscle you have the more fat your body will burn, even when you are at rest. Muscle is also an important factor in the prevention of osteoporosis, because muscle exerts torsional (twisting) force on your bones, causing them to become stronger and denser, which aids in the prevention of bone mass loss. Additionally, muscle burns sugar when we are active, starting with the sugar in your bloodstream. As a result, sugar in the blood is not converted to fat, and strength training aids in controlling the blood sugar level!
Strength training uses barbells, dumbbells, elastic cables, and other exercise devices.
Whether through illness or aging, joint motion can become more restricted and flexibility decreased because changes in tendons and ligaments. As the cushioning cartilage breaks down from use, joints become inflamed and arthritic. Strengthening your body’s core improves your flexibility and there are many programs which target flexibility from Pilates and yoga to Tai Chi or even ballroom dancing! Remember, many of the changes in our musculoskeletal system result more from disuse than aging. Less than 10 percent of Americans participate in regular exercise, and the most sedentary group is older than 50 years of age. Best way to increase your flexibility — get moving!
Aerobic training improves and maintains the heart’s ability to supply oxygen carrying blood to the body. Recommendations for minimal cardiovascular training are that individuals need to reach a heart rate of 80% of age predicted maximum (220 minus your age in years) and keep it there for approximately 15-20 minutes three times per week. A 1966 study, conducted mainly to help NASA scientists understand the effects of zero gravity, found that with as little as 6 months of moderate aerobic exercise, middle-aged individuals can reverse the effects of decades of aging on cardiovascular fitness. If that’s not enough to get you started, think of the beautiful glow that comes after a good aerobic workout!
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