Growing old: meh. Who needs it?
I don’t think any one of us wants to look or feel old, based on the popularity of skin creams, gray coverage, and even botox. Yet most probably don’t realize how easy it is to tap into your very own fountain of youth, just by eating right and exercising. How does fitness keep you young? Here are just a few ways:
We lose muscle as we age, about 5% every 10 years after the age of 35. This loss in muscle mass translates to a decline in metabolism and also an increased risk of injury.
Strength training will reverse this process not only by building muscle, but by creating a favorable hormone environment. Any type of exercise will also increase blood flow to the body and help reverse the muscle loss as well .
Good fitness involves eating right, exercising, and drinking plenty of water – all of which have various positive effects on your skin. Eating a nutritious diet high in vitamin C and Omega 3 fatty acids has been shown to slow the appearance of wrinkles .
Exercise improves circulation to your skin, giving it more elasticity. Drinking water flushes out toxins and improves your skin’s appearance by hydrating it.
Fat Ages You
My best friend, who is 38, recently became very fit through nutrition and exercise. I was meeting her in a crowded location and walked right past her no fewer than 3 times, because I thought she was a teenager standing there.
I think even I look younger at 35 than I did 10 years ago when I was 30 pounds overweight, and that is often the first impression I have when seeing body transformations – they look 10 years younger! Keeping your body healthy and fit will give you the physical appearance of someone much younger.
Youth On a Cellular Level
Exercise has been shown through research to stop the shortening of telomeres, which are tiny protective strands of DNA that prevent chromosomes from unraveling in our immunity cells. Shortening of these telomeres is thought to be caused by stress, which then opens the door to disease. Exercise reduces stress levels, which in turn prevents the damage to these cell protectors, keeping them undamaged and “younger” .
Improved Cognitive Function
Aside from the improved oxygen circulation to the brain, research has actually found that exercise can reverse the aging of the section of the brain that controls memory. As we age, this part of the brain (the hippocampus) shrinks, which is why many elderly adults struggle with dementia and memory loss.
A study of 120 older adults showed a 2% increase in size of the hippocampus with exercise . This increase in size was shown to positively affect memory in these adults. Many superfoods with anti-inflammatory properties, like spinach, blueberries, and omega 3 fats have also been shown to lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other neurological degenerative disorders.
Keeping your body in shape, flexible, and energizing it with nutritious food enables you to keep up with physical activities that you might otherwise have to give up as you age. Play sports, go out dancing, chase your children and grandchildren well into your later years.
HGH – Human Growth Hormone
Human growth hormone (HGH) is produced by the pituitary gland. Its decline during middle age is one reason for our aging, specifically muscle and bone loss, and skin elasticity decline.
We can increase the amount of HGH we produce naturally as we age just by getting adequate sleep, and through exercise . Specifically, resistance and high intensity interval training have been shown to increase the amount of HGH our bodies naturally produce .
As we age, particularly women over the age of 50, we are more likely to develop osteoporosis as our bones deteriorate. Strength training prevents and even reverses this deterioration by stimulating bone growth and improving bone density. Our diet also affects our bone health, as bones are made almost entirely of calcium and phosphorus .
A reduction in overall muscle mass, core strength, and bone density often lead to a slumped over posture that is observed in elderly men and women. This can cause balance issues and stiffness/pain. Strength training, specifically core exercises, will keep your posture in good form so you can stand straight and tall into your golden years.
Eating a sufficient amount of protein in your diet, one that is rich in Vitamin B, will slow the aging process of your hair, which can become thinner, finer, and have more breakage as we get older.
As we age, we produce less and less testosterone, which is responsible for much of our libido. Exercise increases testosterone production, as does a nutritious diet – keeping our sex drives alive  .
Lowered Risk of Disease
Both healthy diet and exercise lower your risk of diseases that are common with aging, like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and even some types of cancer.
Even if you are a young whippersnapper reading this, the sooner you begin a healthy diet and exercise routine, the greater the effects will be as you grow older…and we all do!