Exercise and High-Quality Longevity: Some new Tricks and Tips
High quality longevity means getting old(er) and feeling great. It means not having physical limitations on what you want to do (within reason).
As I write this article Im a month from being 81 years old and feel as if Im a healthy 40-something. As you probably know, I still train extremely hard with weights, run and keep my body fat down.
I take zero prescription medications and have no chronic conditions of any sort. I have never had to take medications for anything other than infections and vaccinations.
Great health and viability did not happen by magic or simple good luck. I have always worked hard to stay in good physical condition and have always enjoyed superior health.
Readers of this column already know that exercise is the best medicine there is to prevent chronic conditions from developing and recovering from physical decline. However, I believe that many of us tend to think of exercise as only happening when we get into our workout clothes and do a workout.
In this article, I am going to suggest some things you can do outside of the gym workout that will enhance your regular training and focus on some of the areas that seem to cause problems as we age.
Some key capabilities that are critical to high quality aging
When we think about countering the physical decline that can come with aging, there are three areas I believe deserve special attention.
- Body strength and endurance
- Aerobic capacity
Building body strength and muscle mass are absolutely essential for a healthy high-quality life as you age. Suffice to say that muscle mass is critical for producing the hormones that keep your body going and protect you from accidents. This is old news to most of you, so Ill not repeat it.
Stability is something that does not get a lot of attention in the senior training literature. However, as you go through the years, there is a tendency to find your balance and coordination gradually diminish. Countering this is important to enjoy carefree movement, and not suffer injury.
Aerobic capacity is something that many weightlifters tend to ignore. However, older lifters run the risk of suffering cardiovascular problems if they do not pay some attention to this issue.
But I promised you some tricks and tips about things you could do outside your regular workout.
Remember, these are things you can do to augment and enhance your training. Dont think of them as replacing your regular workouts.
Building/Enhancing Strength and Stability Throughout the Day
The majority of our waking hours we are either sitting or standing. Do not assume that this automatically means we are decaying during this time. Listed below are some actions that you can take that: 1) will enhance your strength and/or resilience; 2) can be done without anyone noticing what you are doing!
Strength Building while Sitting.
- Arm and shoulder isometric pose. Tense your arms shoulders and chest as hard as you can for 5-7 seconds. Then relax. Clench your fists as tight as you can. Do this 5+ times a day.
- Posture pose: Sit fully erect with your abs tucked in, shoulders square and neck straight. Keep this perfect posture for a minimum of 60 seconds each time you do it. You can do this for long periods of time while working at the computer. I know this!
- Abdominal roll: I learned this one from a friend from India many decades ago. It is a super muscle control exercise. Begin by tightening your lower abs then contracting your middle abs then upper abs. Roll the contractions up and down. This muscle control exercise will help build both control and strong resilient abs. No one will have any idea you are not just sitting at the computer.
Strength Building while Standing
- Dig toes into the floor: Many powerlifters (and others) dont fully mobilize their leg muscles because some part of the power chain is relaxed. When you are standing around practice digging your toes into the floor/ground and fully flexing you calves. You will be amazed how quickly this translates to any lift you do standing on your feet.
- Whole body flex: When standing upright, practice flexing every muscle in your body to a maximum intensity. Check for any muscle groups that may be relaxed. Release the flex after 5 seconds. This muscle control exercise translates well to any compound lifting movement you do in the gym.
Practicing muscle tension and control throughout the day will enhance your ability to mobilize all your muscles during your workouts, and during any other physical activities you may decide to do. This practice will help you maintain better coordination and protect you from injury.