Here are some top fitness tips for longevity. Sometimes it’s not always about doing more of something. For longevity, it’s about maintaining our bodies optimally for the long term and thinking about our bones, joints, tissue and muscles to keep them strong and healthy.
#1. REGULAR EXERCISE
One of the most important fitness tips is regular exercise. It’s not just the type of exercise you do that’s important for longevity, the frequency of exercise is also critical. Just 15 minutes of exercise a day has been shown to add three years of life. Exercising regularly every day, as per government recommendation, is linked to a significant reduction of early mortality.
Aside from the physical benefits of regular exercise like improved body composition, increased lung capacity and heart health, there are many mental and behavioural benefits. When you exercise regularly, it becomes a habit. When exercise becomes routine, you will be more consistent, and garner more benefits.
#2. Walking & Keeping It SImple
We forget sometimes that one of the simplest ways to exercise is to have a walk, whether it’s a brisk walk to get the heart racing or a relaxing nature walk. Walking has so many benefits and the fact that it is low impacting on the joints means that it’s simply brilliant for longevity. Aim for at least a 30min – 1-hour brisk walk every day or more if you can!
The benefits of walking are heavily backed with science, firstly it improves longevity, as well as helping with overall improvements to ageing in terms of maintaining functional capacity, as well as psychological benefits. and well-being too! The effects on brain health are also remarkable on brain development and maintenance, with evidence to suggest that it supports memory and spatial awareness and a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s!
So, if you cant get to the gym session or just want a nice easy, free way to do exercise walking is one of the best things you can do.
#3. Yoga & Stretching
Doing regular basic stretches every day has some outstanding benefits and if you can push it a little further and start doing yoga than the longevity benefits are astounding!
Yoga is one of those forms of exercises that covers so many areas in terms of benefits that it’s hard to believe, but there is now a wealth of evidence supporting this literally miracle aiding exercise. Consistent yoga practice, aids with building muscle and strengthens the tissue and tendons in between helping with improved flexibility. That is just a minor benefit. Yoga also helps to reduce cortisol and increases serotonin levels, it’s literally a happy producing exercise. It helps to increase blood flow and levels of haemoglobin enhancing overall cell function. It reduces your resting heart rate a key bio-health marker. Yoga has been used to help with depression disorders reducing or removing the need for medication. It has also helped cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy reducing recovery time and the effects of chemotherapy such as sickness and tiredness. Finally, if that wasn’t enough Yoga improves overall sleep quality.!!
If you are a beginner to stretching or yoga than its advisable to get instruction, to ensure you are not risking injury and a good teacher and a class will motivate you to keep it up. If you would prefer to train in the comfort of your own home, there are some fantastic sites and apps out there. Darebee is a great free website to help you with stretching and yoga routines and Tone & Sculpt have some great content too!
The benefits of yoga have been known for thousands of years and clinical research can now demonstrate how truly amazing yoga is.
From research, chronic stress is consistently associated with ageing, depression, inflammation, chronic disease and more. One study found that chronic stress accelerates premature ageing by shortening DNA telomeres – one of the seven pillars of ageing. One of the most evidence-backed ways to manage stress is meditation. A 2011 study found that meditation protected telomere length and in some cases increased telomerase. Meditation involves slowing down your thoughts and connecting to your body, causing stress hormones to decrease and hormones associated with cognitive function and mood stabilisation to increase.
#5. STRENGTH TRAINING
When you exercise against external resistance, most commonly in the form of weights, your muscles get stronger and less at risk for sarcopenia – the age-related loss of skeletal muscle mass and strength. Muscle strength is associated with mobility, which is why strength training is one of the most research-backed ways to slow ageing.
A recent study found that in more than 140,000 adults, those with the highest levels of grip strength (a key measure of total body strength) had the greatest reduction of metabolic disease. Each 11-pound decrease in grip strength was linked to a 16 percent higher risk of all-cause mortality and a 17 percent increased risk of dying from heart disease.
#6. NEUROMOTOR EXERCISE
The neuromuscular function begins to decline after the age of 30, resulting in diminished coordination and muscle control. Neuromotor exercise focuses on skills like balance, agility, coordination and gait. As we age, research shows that our balance suffers due to a loss of joint flexibility, loss in muscle mass and strength. Neuromotor training stimulates the function of the key brain and spinal centres involved in the movement, and when practised regularly, has been shown in research to promote longevity. A study published in the Journal of Science in Sport and Exercise found that when a group of participants performed neuromotor exercise for 12 weeks, their mobility improved – a key marker of longevity.
#7. AVOID OVEREATING
Overeating not only causes weight gain, but it is also linked to lifespan. When researchers examined the population of Okinawa, Japan, to try and understand why their lifespan was so much longer than anywhere in the world, they noticed a key feature of their diets – dietary restriction. In the 2007 study, researchers found that in six decades of population data, calorie restriction was the most notable feature of longevity. Overeating can increase body fat, inflammation and inflammatory conditions like arthritis, increase your risk of cardiovascular disease and type II diabetes and impair cognitive function and impact mental health.
#8. GROUP EXERCISE
According to a promising 2018 study that examined the best exercise for longevity, group exercise was something that could be a game-changer. In the Copenhagen City Heart study, more than 8,500 participants were followed for 25 years to examine the role of exercise and longevity. The researchers found that those who participated in most group exercise activities lived the longest. While this is correlation and not causation, it provides a useful indicator into the benefits of group exercise. Studies show you are more likely to work harder and be more consistent when exercising in a group, plus, the social bonding aspect boosts life satisfaction and lowers stress by up to 26 percent.
#9. BE HAPPY
One of the most effective ways to promote longevity is to be happy. Numerous studies show that happiness is one of the biggest ways to increase lifespan, with one study reporting that happiness was associated with a 35 percent reduced mortality risk. This is in part because when you’re happy, you’re more likely to take care of yourself, have social bonds and less stress. You’re more likely to take care of yourself, exercise more, nourish your body with healthy food and sleep better. When you focus on the good in your life, you are – by default – focusing on less other things that cause stress. This shift of focus helps to decrease stress hormones like cortisol and boost happy hormones like endorphins.
As touched on in the previous point, maintaining healthy social bonds is vital for longevity. A 2016 study found that a higher degree of social connectivity is associated with a lower risk of physiological and psychological dysregulation. For example, social isolation is linked to inflammation, depression, obesity, reduced immune function and increased disease risk. Humans are social creatures, so it’s only natural that to perform at our best, we must be surrounded by good people that we feel connected with. For a longevity boost – try exercising with your friends to enjoy the social connection with the added exercise benefits.
Spending time in natural environments is linked to reduced mortality. Studies show that the more time you spend in nature, the better its effects on longevity and lifespan, and according to global data, those who live near green spaces are less at risk for some diseases and premature ageing. Researchers assume this is in part because you’re more likely to exercise: a systematic review published in 2011 that looked at studies with more than 833 participants in total, found that exercising outside boosted mental well being, making participants feel more revitalised, energetic and positive
Cognitive function is one of the key indicators of age. This is in part because of the sharp decrease in neurogenesis – healthy cell proliferation in the brain. A decline in cognitive function inhibits memory, reaction time, decision making and attention, all impacting longevity and quality of life. To protect your brain for ageing you should:
● Eat a nutrient-dense varied diet
● Eat healthy fats
● Eat antioxidants
● Reduce your intake of processed foods
● Sleep 8 hours per night
● Minimise stress
All these dietary and lifestyle adjustments will protect your brain by reducing inflammation and provide the essential nutrients for brain health.