3 easy ways to stay in shape as you get older
1 Pump iron
Have you watched the Expendables? Did you count how many seasoned starts are in that movie? Weight training strengthens both your muscles and your bones, helping reduce the risk of osteoporosis as you age, and you can enjoy almost exactly the same benefits of increased muscle size, strength and power training in your 40s as you can aged 18, according to a new study published in the Journal Of Strength And Conditioning Research. If it feels like a millennium since you lifted a barbell, start off with bodyweight exercises. At home or in the gym do three sets of ten reps of push-ups, dips, planks, squats and lunges.
2 Ride a bike
Older people who cycle show fewer signs of ageing than non-cyclists. Research published in the Journal Of Physiology on the impact of exercise on the body found cycling can ‘optimise’ the ageing process, helping maintain health and well-being throughout life. Scientists from King’s College London analysed the physiological functions of regular cyclists aged between 55 and 79, including cardiovascular, respiratory and cognitive functions, and found few typical signs of ageing. To qualify as a ‘regular cyclist’ male volunteers had to be able to cycle 100km in under 6.5 hours – a pretty manageable pace at any age. Make a start with two 30-minute sessions a week. It’s low-impact, so it won’t risk damaging your joints like road running can, and the potential indignity of slipping into Lycra is – despite what Tour de France fanatics might say – not a prerequisite of the sport.
3 Do mental acrobatics
Weight training and cardio will help your body stay in shape but you can also sharpen your mind by exercising your brain, according to The Franklin Institute. Using puzzles such as Sudoku, reading frequently and learning new skills can reduce the chance or delay the onset of memory loss, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. The science is contentious on the subject of brain training: a 2008 study by Swiss psychologist Susanne Jaeggi found memory training increased intelligence and IQ, but in contrast, a 2012 study published in the journal Neuronfound no advantage for intelligence for those who regularly brain-trained – although those who played video games did better in short-term memory capacity and reasoning. But while the jury is still out, no research has suggested that keeping your brain active can have detrimental effects on your memory and intelligence. The Lumosity app is a good place to start – its co-founder Michael Scanlon abandoned his neuroscience PhD at Stanford University to set up the popular brain training business. He must have been confident of its benefits.
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