“Fitness is a fountain of youth!” A statement proven time and again by the exceptionally fit people often seen at gyms who look at least ten years younger than their actual age. The “no excuses” truth is, it’s possible to start exercising at any age – and long-term studies show being active can cut the risk of premature death by as much as 50 percent.
One of the first steps to “defying gravity” and looking forever young is to learn more about what happens to our bodies as we age. After age 30, fitness levels can decline, leading to a tendency to put on weight. Bone and muscle loss begins around age 35. Flexibility and strength are also on the decline, as body fat levels and blood pressure are on the rise. A whopping 50% of these changes are a direct result of inactivity.
With regular exercise you can take control of your life, delay and even reverse adverse effects associated with aging. Major fitness components that can have the greatest impact on preventing falls and prolonging independence include body composition, strength and power, aerobic capacity, flexibility, balance and mobility. Physical fitness can also help improve the ability to perform every day functional activities such as lifting and bending.
So choose to move! Research shows that even people in their 90s have seen up to a 200% improvement in strength within a few weeks of starting an exercise program.
“Looking and staying young is easier than you might think,” explains Delia Cicale, co-owner of Olympia Fitness Center. “I’ve been exercising since my twenties and now, I’ve been able to maintain my weight and look by best at 60. My husband, Pete, and I both follow a very diverse workout program incorporating strength training, flexibility and aerobic exercise.”
Strength training is especially beneficial for developing lean muscle mass and increasing your body’s ability to burn calories – even while at rest. Studies have shown women who joined men incorporating strength training in their exercise program lost an average of 44% more fat than those who didn’t.
Stretching daily to enhance flexibility can also help maintain elasticity in muscles and reduce the risk of joint disease. Aerobic exercise bolsters immune function, lowers blood pressure and can keep your heart healthy while stimulating cell growth, enhancing mental condition and increasing brain function in older adults. Exercising also triggers the release of endorphins which can counteract depression.
Proper diet is another critical key to finding the “fountain of youth.” An antiaging diet, rich in antioxidants, can prevent damage to the heart, arteries and other tissues. As a result of the natural aging process, men – and especially ladies lose lean muscle mass every year and replace it with fat. This is a primary reason why weight control and weight loss becomes so much more difficult then when you were 18. One pound of fat burns only about four calories per day, while one pound of muscle burns approximately 50 calories per day.
Experts agree, being active and exercising regularly is probably the number one thing you can do to slow the aging process and improve vitality. “Exercise can be described as a real lifesaver,” the Cicales energetically proclaim. “It can help you reduce stress, feel revitalized, happy, stronger, more confident, young and alive!”