I’ve always advocated regular exercise and a variety of activities to maximize the mind and body’s natural ability to sustain long life while helping you look your best. It takes dedication and resourcefulness to sustain a lifetime of fitness and vitality. With the right attitude, regular exercise can become the means to a happy ending. Although you may think it’s a stretch to associate daily fitness with happiness, there is a detectable level of instant gratification that comes with exercise. After about 20 minutes of walking, running or exercising, our bodies release endorphins to the brain as a response to physical discomfort and extra activity, and can produce a sense of euphoria – often called a runner’s high. And let’s not underestimate the perks of looking and feeling better – that’s worth a few extra points on the happiness meter. Within this chapter, learn the facts regarding fitness and longevity, including some exciting updates in state-of-the-art technology and DNA research that can level the playing field.
It doesn’t matter what age or level of fitness you’re at right now, there is simply no good reason to avoid exercise. Even swinging your arms while marching in place for 3 to 5 minutes several times a day can get the blood pumping and keep your system from becoming sedentary. It’s always best to push your limits gradually with mini goals, such as increasing the number of repetitions or walking an extra quarter mile when you reach your good heart-rate zone – which is discussed in this chapter.
Keep it interesting by changing up the routine often, but make sure you get some form of exercise every week and strive for a blended mix of high and low-impact moves in order to effectively increase your heart rate throughout the entire workout. If you have fallen off the exercise bandwagon, re-approach the workout as a novice to discover and reset your correct pace, since it has probably changed.
Regular exercise should begin with a ten minute warm-up and end with a ten minute cool down and include pulse and heart-rate monitoring before, during and after any workout. Prior to starting, consult your doctor to advise that you are going to begin exercising or increasing your activity level. This is especially true if you are currently on blood pressure or cardiac medication or have any of the following symptoms:
- A heart condition or other chronic condition, such as diabetes
- Chronic joint or back pain or discomfort of any kind
- Pain in the chest, neck and left arm region
- Shortness of breath before, during or after workouts
- Unexplained dizziness
When deciding on an exercise program, make sure it’s one that pushes you at the correct aerobic pace, with varying levels of cardio movements, resistance and repetitions, and enough diversity to keep you motivated. Background music can enhance your sense of rhythm through synchronized movements and routines, such as Zumba, which spices up your moves with a salsa twist. Try to enjoy yourself instead of stereotyping your workout as a punishment you must pay because of something you plan to do or have already done – like eating a rich dessert. Your workout pace has as much, if not more, to do with your fitness level than your physical age. We all know people well into their 50’s and 60’s that keep up with their much-younger relatives and friends. Sad to say, the opposite isn’t always true since the age of technology has created new generations of couch potatoes that think a rousing video game is a good workout after a full day behind a school or office desk.
It’s important to always stay fit, but exercise does take on a slightly-different meaning as you age. Even if you are gearing up for a spot in the annual Senior Olympics, use caution to avoid falling or over-exerting your muscles, since broken bones and pulled muscles take longer to heal as we continue to age. It can actually take several months to a year to recover from a broken hip and the surgery it requires. And if a proper physical therapy regimen isn’t followed, the resulting tendonitis can be extremely painful and limit mobility, thus increasing the chances of another fall. If high-impact exercise is no longer on the radar, it becomes more about maintaining good blood flow, joint health and physical and mental stamina.
If you are over the age of 60 or new to the fitness scene, you may want to join an exercise regime that speaks to the needs of seniors and newbies. The MeltMethod, is a ten minute routine which focuses on reducing inflammation through a transformative program that “brings your body back to a more ideal state through body awareness,” and thereby reduces chronic aches and pains. Another is the T-Tapp method, which offers several levels of workouts, including a senior fit program created to focus on areas that are critical as we age – maximizing muscle activation, circulation and lymphatic health with an exercise regime that incorporates mindful movements with leverage isometrics – all designed to improve strength, flexibility and heart health, as well as increase energy and decrease inflammation.
It’s been determined that regular exercise is credited with slowing Alzheimer’s progression – and sometimes it is more effective than certain medications prescribed for that purpose. According to an article in Stop Aging Now, “The latest statistics reveal that one in three people will die with some form of Alzheimer’s disease or some other form of dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease recently escalated to become the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S.” With an alarming rate of diagnosis that tallies one new case of Alzheimer’s every 76 seconds, it becomes more critical to do whatever is necessary to stave off the disease – and right now, regular physical activity and exercise is leading the way. Recent findings reveal that exercise promotes a significant increase in the intensity of brain activity in eleven brain regions, which included the same areas of the brain that lead to a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease.