Monday, December 11, 2023

Can exercise turn back the clock on ageing?

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Can exercise turn back the clock on ageing?

I say what a silly question, that’s because I have been exercising all my life, it comes easy to me and if I miss a day of it I feel incomplete that day and always readily bounce back. Not the case with everybody.

But did you know that exercising regularly is one of the best defences against the jaws of ageing?

As human beings, ageing is part and parcel of life. The building of your body to adulthood goes on till you are 30, the ageing process begins around the age of 40. How rapidily you age is influenced by whether or not you incorporate exercise into your daily routine. Young or old, some form of physical movement is essential for your body to thrive. Exercise repairs your DNA, improves heart, brain, bone, muscular, lung and mental health. It also delays the onset of age related issues like dementia, aches and pains in your joints, bones and muscles as well as cognitive decline. Exercising can even help you live longer.

Everyone and their mothers know that exercising is good for you. The more you move, the younger you will feel.

Exercising helps you builds muscle strength

As you age, you tend to lose muscle mass and strength (sarcopenia). Exercising, particularly strength training and resistance training can help slow this down and even build your muscle strength. Resistance exercises reverse ageing by slowing down muscle loss and building your lean muscle mass. If you regularly exercise, the improvements in your muscle mass will be significant.

Exercising boosts your cardio health

Endurance and cardio exercises like running, jogging, walking, cycling, swimming and playing a sport can fend off ageing especially when it comes to your cardiovascular system. Exercising  boosts the HDL (good) cholesterol in your blood while lowering the LDL (bad) cholesterol at the same time. It also lowers your resting heart rate and increases your heart’s ability to transport oxygen to the rest of your body. Exercising for approximately 150 minutes a week helps your heart function efficiently and even reverses some ageing of the heart.

Exercising is good for your balance and coordination

Exercising allows you to train your body in a way that improves your balance and coordination. This in turn reduces your risk of injuries. As you grow older your sense of balance and coordination declines. That’s when the effects of regularly exercising will show- by improving your sense of balance. Say bye bye to those wobbly feet. .

 Exercising improves your bone density

Strong bones are so important. Unfortunately around the age 30, your bone mass stops increasing and in your 40s and 50s it starts to decline. Sometimes to a point where you lose more bone mass than you make. Exercising consistently can help you increase and maintain your bone density and keep away bone disorders like arthritis and osteoporosis. Bone mass declines faster among women after menopause, making exercise a must to slow down bone ageing.

Exercising is good for cognition and boosts brain health

Multitasking, ignoring irrelevant information and being able to focus on what is important, performing multiple activities are all signs of healthy cognitive function. As you age, your cognition tends to decline. A disciplined exercise routine can benefit you mentally as well. It boosts your brain health, keeps your mind alert and active and even wards off diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Exercise can lengthen your DNA telomeres

Telomeres are the caps at the end of your DNA strands. Think of it somewhat as the aglets on your shoelaces. As you age the length of the telomeres decrease making it harder for your cells to divide and regenerate. In general, longer telomeres reduce the risk of developing age-related and chronic diseases. Exercising regularly can keep your telomeres long.

Exercising delays the onset of chronic conditions

Exercising regularly can keep chronic conditions that develop with age at bay. It can prevent and delay the onset of heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, osteoporosis and brittle bones, cancer and cognitive decline to name a few.

Exercising improves your overall health

If you exercise regularly you can vouch for the fact that you feel better overall. Not just physically but mentally also. Researchers and doctors often refer to exercise as a drug free “all-in-one” pill that has numerous benefits and can benefit nearly everyone.

Best forms of exercising for anti-ageing-

Choose the best form of exercise that works for you and stick to it. Both cardiovascular and strength training help in reverse ageing.

  • Cardio activities like running, walking, cycling, swimming are good for your body.
  • Strength and weight training
  • Walking is a recommended activity for older adults.
  • Mobility training and stretching should be included in your daily routine as well.
  • Yoga or pilates can do wonders for your body as well.

Aim for at least five days a week of low impact and moderate-intensity exercise.

Conclusion —

Exercise is the most powerful natural form of medicine at our disposal. It can boost your health like no other. When you combine exercising with a healthy diet and lifestyle, you are giving your body the opportunity to be its best self.

Exercise reverses ageing in many ways, from physical to neurological.

  • It’s never too late to start.
  • The key is starting slow and progressing slowly with consistency.

Do not give up and let ‘Father Time’ take his toll on you.

Vinita Alvares Fernandes
Vinita Alvares Fernandes is an Economics graduate, a writer and a Trinity College certified public speaker and communicator

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