Staying proactive about health and fitness not only keeps you healthy during your working years but also improves quality of life for your post-working years. Here are 5 ways to stay on top of your health and fitness now for best results later in life.
1. Be honest with yourself about small changes
Does it seem like your feet are somehow further away when you try to put your socks on in the morning? Does putting your pants on seem more and more like an athletic event? Noticing small changes in abilities can help you design a proactive approach to improvement. If you’re having trouble putting on your socks, you might need more flexibility training. If you’re staggering while putting on your pants, then some balance exercises are in order. Don’t ignore small changes; empower yourself to make big improvements.
2. Train your weakness, not your strength
Most people have a type of exercise that they enjoy—or at least don’t hate—and that is what they choose to do most of the time. Unfortunately, only doing one type of exercise can lead to imbalances and injury. For example, swimmers and cyclists are more prone to bone density loss since these are not high impact activities. People who only run or walk may maintain better bone density but become very inflexible in other ranges of motion. And we all know people who love to strength train, but loathe cardio. If you strongly prefer a certain activity, try to figure out what other activities can help balance your body so you can keep up your passion for as long as possible.
3. Use a full range of motion
Flexibility and range of motion tend to decline as we age, often leading to unhealthy movement patterns and disability. For example loss of flexibility in the ankle can lead to a shuffling gait and an inflexible upper spine can lead to a rounded posture. To avoid these types of problems, incorporate activities that use a full range of motion such as martial arts, dance, or yoga. Strength trainers, you can also add full range of motion moves to your workout: recent studies show that strength training sessions that use a full range of motion, such as squats that go below a 90° knee bend, can also be effective for promoting flexibility and healthy movement.
4. Actively manage stress
Research continues to show that high levels of stress can accelerate the aging process and increase the risk of several potentially debilitating conditions such as heart disease and stroke. The good news is these negative changes can also be reversed by lifestyle adjustments including regular moderate exercise, stress reduction practices, and eating a plant-based diet.
5. Exercise with a friend or group
Staying active and having a strong community are two of the best ways to avoid all forms of disability as we age. People with strong social networks tend to age better and live longer than those with less support. Group exercisers also tend to more consistently active because of the support, accountability, and structure provided by a group. Plus, exercising together is just a lot more fun! Why not call a friend to go for a walk or hit the gym with you today? Or try a new class and get moving with some future friends.
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