The anti-aging benefits of exercise are numerous. Inactivity is a culprit in the deterioration of many bodily functions and processes. Regular exercise promotes good circulation and heart health, revitalizes the organs, maintains strong bones and muscles, increases the metabolism and keeps the nervous system in optimal shape.
One research study looked at five healthy young men in their twenties who were asked to spend three weeks resting in bed. Before and after tests revealed dramatic shifts in their physiology. The short three weeks of inactivity led to a host of physiological changes in these men. Their resting heart rates were faster, their blood pressure readings were higher, their maximum heart pumping capacity was lower, their body fat increased and their muscle strength decreased. All of this occurred in just a short three weeks.
This same group of young men was then placed on an 8-week program of exercise. The result was not only a reversal of the negative impact of bed rest, but an improvement in fitness beyond their pre-bed rest levels.
The bad news, therefore, is that inactivity has harmful effects on the body and leads to rapid aging. The good news is that these aging effects can oftentimes be reversed through a consistent fitness regimen. Here are three types of exercise that promote anti-aging benefits:
Aerobic activity is important for creating heart health, keeping body fat levels low and improving circulation. Walking quickly, cycling, jogging, dancing and climbing stairs are just a few examples of ways to incorporate aerobic activity. It is much more effective to engage in 30 minutes of aerobic activity several times a week than to do several hours of it once per week.
As you age it is common for the body to decrease in muscle mass. This muscular atrophy is often due to inactivity. Weight lifting, yoga, Pilates, and other types of exercise that build muscles are important for maintaining a strong and vital body as you get older. A stronger body also lends itself to fewer injuries.
The Asian traditions offer another perspective on the connection between energy, exercise and aging. “Qi” or “chi” is a word for the vital energy necessary to promote life. Good qi shows up in the body’s proper functioning and youthful demeanor. When this vital energy is flowing through the body, it clears the body of impurities and organ obstructions.
Exercises that enhance qi and build energy are Tai Chi and Qi Gong. These exercise types involve a sequence of slow paced movements that involve complete consciousness of the breath. In these exercise types, proper breathing is essential for oxygenation of the body, which in itself prevents collagen loss and premature aging.
Exercise has an enormous impact on aging. To achieve optimal benefits, create an exercise regimen that combines aerobic activity, a muscle building component, as well as other forms of exercise that regulate breathing. Older adults who have exercised regularly throughout their lives, integrating many of these components, have proven that disease, organ deterioration, muscle loss and other issues generally associated with aging are not inevitable outcomes of getting older.