Keeping Your Body Active and Mobile
Now perhaps the most important way to protect your body and mind against Aging: working out!
That’s right: body and mind. Your brain’s primary purpose is to move your body and a huge amount of your grey matter’s real estate is dedicated to exactly that job. If you want to keep learning and creating new connections in your brain, then nothing will compare to staying active and exercising. What’s more, is that exercise stimulates the release of countless necessary neurochemicals including dopamine and serotonin.
It has been shown to greatly improve memory and to boost IQ too. Meanwhile, the benefits for the body are huge. Staying active can help to improve heart health and prevent the likelihood of heart disease. It can also
improve your looks, combat diabetes, prevent depression, keep your bones stronger (especially if you train outside and get lots of sun), and much more.
More importantly, as we discussed in the introduction, staying active is actually the best way to prevent the loss of mobility that will leave us hunched and in constant pain in old age. So the question is, how do you stay active in the right way to combat age-related health issues?
One Rule: Move!
Get up right now and stand with your feet slightly apart and your toes facing forward. Now try to squat all the way down with your heels flat on the floor.
Can’t do it?
This isn’t just a problem for the older population it’s something that 90% of guys and gals in their 20s and 30s can’t do either. But you should be able to do it. Squatting is one of the 7 primal movements – it’s a fundamental ability that we should all have.
How about touching your toes?
The problem is that most of us spend 8 hours a day sitting in an office in the same position. That position involves having our shoulders hunched forward, neck craned down and legs bent. This causes muscles like the quadriceps and pecs to shorten and tighten, while our hamstrings and glutes become weakened and flattened. The longer this goes on, the more serious the problem becomes.
Eventually, we might even develop a pelvic tilt. Is it any wonder that you can’t move at all when you’re older? So the key is not to start some ‘gentle exercise’. Rather, the key is to get really active and to push your body. It should be able to handle it but you need a trainer who can teach you to get started gently and to gradually increase the difficulty while keeping one eye firmly on mobility.
Read books like Becoming a Supple Leopard and you’ll see that we age best when we use our body through its full range of motion and keep on doing so. Weight-lifting is actually a great choice of exercise for older individuals as it teaches movements like the squat and the deadlift with good technique to ensure that you have full range of motion.
This is even more important if you do have a fall or accident as this is what will very often serve as the catalyst to many more problems. If that happens, then you should see a chiropractor or physiotherapist and then follow the advice they give you to strengthen the area and prevent knock-on effects throughout your body. Of course, if you have existing complaints then you may not be up for squatting and lunging just yet.
In that case, you may want to start with some gentle cardio in the meantime which will help to provide those aforementioned health and brain benefits in the short term. Good options include the most low-impact forms of exercise, such as swimming, walking (or power walking), the recumbent bike, and others that don’t involve hitting anything with force. Just make sure that the goal is always to work your way up toward more complex moves.