"Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be." Robert Browning
Age is just a number, but how you look and feel can vary greatly from person to person. Thankfully, there are strategies that can keep us looking and feeling a lot younger than the numbers might say.
Recent significant scientific breakthroughs help us better understand how the body ages, and directly correlate quality of life and longevity to how you treat your body through the years. So, when does natural biological degeneration begin? Are you thinking 50’s or 60’s? Try 30’s.
Although degeneration starts earlier than many think, there are proven strategies to battle the effects of aging. In fact, one of the most powerful “aging weapons” is near and dear to the hearts of East Bank Club members: exercise!
Exercise positively impacts a multitude of factors for all ages including: brain function, mood, pain management, mobility, sleep, bone density, balance, digestive activity, sexual function, skin elasticity, and more. Are you getting the picture? Exercise provides a head-to-toe makeover that lasts an entire lifetime. Regular exercise keeps us healthy, keeps us mobile, and actually defies what was once considered the inevitable downward trajectory of aging.
Science has more accurately defined the chemical reactions and triggers that occur when we exercise, and how they counteract our inevitable biological decline. Exercise tricks the body into believing it is in a state of growth rather than decline, enabling us to not only look younger, but to be younger from the inside out. The growth stimulated through exercise keeps our bodies repairing and regenerating.
In addition to exercise, other lifestyle, social, and dietary factors affect longevity. Dan Buettner, founder of the Blue Zones project, identified several factors leading to life expectancies beyond 100 years. His study focused on regions that boast the highest longevity statistics on the planet. These factors include: having a positive attitude, moving naturally, eating wisely and belonging to a community.
These are all components of what is known as Active Aging. The World Health Organization defines Active Aging as “the process of optimizing opportunities for health, participation and security in order to enhance quality of life as people age.”
East Bank Club provides considerable Active Aging programming, instruction and support for all members throughout their lives. The Club is a truly unique environment where multiple generations of people are found in classes, the weight room, the cardio area and the pool. In many classes, sixty plus years can separate the youngest and oldest participants. Modifications and adjustments can account for differing ability, agility and mobility levels.
The August Fitness Focus for East Bank Club is Active Aging. In addition to the standard programming that targets a broad spectrum of ages, there are a handful of special classes designed to help members think about aging in a new way. Classes include:
• “Chair Yoga” to help those with balance issues or other physical limitations
• “Primetime Navigation” to provide strategies for older athletes to maintain safety
• “Let It Go,” a class that uses Core Energetics to let go of emotional tension
Aida Johnson-Rapp, Director of Group Exercise at the Club, has a strong passion for Active Aging. Although she doesn’t look it, Aida is in her early 60’s, but can easily outperform many half her age. She takes care to be smart and thoughtful about her movement to ensure she’s listening to her body and staying safe in her activities. Aida’s mantra for healthy living is “everything in moderation.”
Other great options for building strength from the inside out are Pilates and the GYROTONIC® Method. Lisa Reynolds, the Club’s Director of Pilates and GYROTONIC®, particularly emphasizes the ability of these methods of exercise to create flexibility, mobility and strength around the spine. This allows for greater range of motion and decreases the risk of back injury by stabilizing the muscles around the vertebrae. “Twentieth century fitness was all about looking good,” explains Lisa. “In the 21st century, we’ve gotten a lot smarter about the cellular benefits of exercise, and how it keeps us vibrant for many years. The mind/body connection is universally accepted now, and the benefits will continue to be realized.”
We’ve created a guide to exercise across the decades that can help ensure you’re on the right track to maximize your efforts for the greatest impact while minimizing your risk of injury.
Time is truly on your side in your 20’s. This is the decade when youth naturally counteracts many issues that can later prove debilitating. This is the time when an exercise routine will establish the foundation for your future self, and help you discover the things you love to do. This is also a time to create healthy habits in stress reduction. You can truly push yourself in your 20’s, as recovery time is at a minimum.
• Explore a multitude of activities and find what you love to do
• Join a team sport
• Take up meditation
• Compete! Try a Tough Mudder or an Iron Man
You are at your endurance peak during your 30’s, but this is the decade when age starts to become a factor. Muscle degeneration begins at age 30, and bone density starts decreasing in your mid-thirties. While you might not notice these changes on the outside, they are happening beneath the surface. Metabolism is starting to slow down which can lead to weight gain. The good news is these issues can all be staved off with regular movement. You can still push it without feeling too many effects, but it’s time to be smart.
• Start weight training to build your foundation and bone strength
• Create variety in your workout through cross-training to avoid repetitive motion injuries
• Focus on nutrition to counter a slowing metabolism
While you might still feel like you can do it all, this is the time when age plays a role in your body’s ability to function. Recovery is harder and there’s a greater risk of injury. If you ignore the signals your body is sending and keep doing the same things you’ve always done, you could be in for a heap of hurt. Many things are possible during this time, but a greater focus on preparation and recovery needs to start.
• Performance stretching is a great way to get deep into muscles to relieve tension patterns
• Flexibility and balance training is important through yoga, Pilates or GYROTONIC®
• Regular cardiovascular work is necessary to keep heart and lungs strong
Range of motion, balance and cardio health are important factors during this time. Using lighter weights or bodyweight in your movements will maintain strength and flexibility. Continue to do what you loved previously, just do it with care (and a little less intensity).
• Step up cardio exercise (include dancing, walking, biking, swimming)
• Yoga can help with balance
• Add variety (example, If you only bike, add rowing to your routine)
It’s more important than ever to keep exercising during this time. Many activities that were done in earlier decades can still be performed at some level. There is an increased emphasis on stretching, warming up, and cooling down. Take great care to keep your body moving in a steady, safe manner to avoid instability that can lead to a fall.
• Active stretching can maintain a broad range of motion
• Balance exercises are more important than ever (ex., tree pose in yoga or sitting down and standing up without using hands)
• Pilates is a great option for increasing strength while being supported
East Bank Club | August 2016