How to Maintain Your Youthful Vigor and Slow the Aging Process

By La Rue Briggs

Did you know that a 60-year-old who has been athletically active can endure more physically challenging tasks than a 30-year-old who has been athletically inactive? Like a magical elixir, regular workouts can help to revitalize the body and keep old-age symptoms at bay. 


Old is relative, defined as the advanced years of life when a person has reached the stage of considerably lowered activity due to fading vitality and muscular atrophy.




All the same, physiological age is a bigger concern than chronological age when considering how frequently and strenuously one should exercise. In theory, a 60-year-old person who has been athletically active throughout his or her existence can endure more physically challenging tasks than a 30-year-old who has been athletically inactive. As a rule, however, a 60-year-old person is less likely to have remained involved with athletics on a participatory level through the years.

Until someone finally discovers the Fountain of Youth, that legendary spring sought in the New World by Ponce de Leon and other Spanish explorers, regular workouts will have to suffice as the means for bringing about those near-miraculous, all-over improvements to the body that only exercise produces. For like a magical elixir, regular workouts can help to revitalize the body and keep old-age symptoms at bay.

Extensive research by scientists has found that when pursued consistently over time, the long-term payoff from exercising accrues to an individual in a physical potpourri of positive ways. Principally, scientists state that as a result of exercise, one will scale to a higher plateau of fitness, will obtain an added measure of energy, will seldom be afflicted with common illnesses and minor health problems, will avoid being hampered by the unpleasant effects that a sedentary existence can have on his mental and emotional well-being and, above all, will have greater peace of mind.

Moreover, a vigorous, healthy body aids in protecting one from lesser mishaps and may be a lifesaving factor in a crisis situation. Being able to respond quickly and decisively when in a potentially dangerous situation may make it possible for a person to avert a physically debilitating outcome. This ability becomes exceedingly important once one has entered the degenerative middle-age period of life.

Now, ideally, the human body should last in the neighborhood of 120 years. But due mainly to inactivity and an unrestrained approach to experiencing la dolce vita, many of us begin to hasten the aging process as well as to pare down the number of years in our lives very early after our arrival on earth. And in the end, we wind up with a figure far below the one we were capable of reaching had we taken better care of ourselves.

For example, studies show that coronary-artery disease (affecting the arteries that transport blood to the heart muscle) is two times more prevalent among inactive than active people. Studies also show a connection between inactivity and such illnesses as diabetes, ulcers, high-blood pressure and emotional problems brought on by stress and anxiety.

In some instances, the element that can be held responsible for serious illness and a shortened life span is a defective gene pool. Regrettably, hundreds of thousands of people are descendants of family stock susceptible to scores of garden-variety ailments as well as to one of the most frightening killers of our time: cancer. Consequently, these people must be especially careful about their health in order to prolong their normal biological ages. Early detection and treatment of cancer, or any one of countless other health-robbing diseases, can go a long way in bettering the quality, and possibly extending the length, of a person's life.

These days, with the proliferation of health and fitness books and magazines, more people than in the past know how invaluable regular workouts are for older persons. They know that strength, endurance, flexibility, coordination of movement and seemingly unlimited energy, all of which are taken for granted when we are young, gain ever greater importance as the years pass by if we wish to be self-reliant for as long as possible.

Though these physical powers must now be worked for, the output from this work is well worth the effort; the bottom-line difference is one of leading either a productive or a nonproductive life.

Nonetheless, assorted natural changes do take place in our bodies as we grow older and should be taken into account when we are planning our workout programs. However, the limitations imposed by aging for the most part, and for the largest number of people, are more qualitative than quantitative. That is, we may not be able to perform some functions at the same high level we once did but, with modifications and expectations tailored to the individual, we can still perform them.

So time does exact a toll on us in the long run. Nevertheless, regardless of what the calendar says, many of the undesirable effects usually inflicted upon us by the ravages of time can be postponed, reversed or prevented through proper exercise. Case in point: As a rule the body's ability to receive and circulate oxygen decreases about 1 percent yearly after the age of 25. But many older adults have found that diligently performing an aerobic activity, such as walking, has assisted in heightening the amount of oxygen their bodies use, has enhanced their hearts' working capability and, thereby, has raised their blood supply. Others have found that along with improving their looks by holding back the years, exercise has also improved their mental faculties, as well as their capacity to put their bodies in motion - to get out of bed and move around unassisted.

With advancing age, it's not uncommon to experience a measure of stiffness in the muscles and joints. Joint structures are more easily injured and muscles may get weaker and shorter, particularly if we have led an easygoing, or unhealthy lifestyle. To boost our attempts to reach our full potential in an ongoing manner, we must therefore make a conscious effort to better the range of motion in the joints and keep the muscles resilient.

We can best do this by taking control of the development of our bodies. This may sound simple enough, but actually it's not simple, or automatic. It requires dedication, determination, planning and work on our part. Nonetheless, to varying degrees, we all have the power within to make ourselves healthy.

Through developing our bodies with weight equipment, aerobics, stretching and a low-fat, low-cholesterol, low-sugar diet, we will not only maximize our physical and mental performances but will also have a firm, slender, supple physique no matter what our chronological ages may be.

Specifically, weight workouts will assist in preventing muscle and bone loss. On average, we lose around 3 percent of our bone mass annually as we age. Yet doing weight-resistant workouts will help to build up the muscles, tighten and tone the body, and increase strength as well as restore bone mass and density.

Aerobic exercises (such as walking, jogging and swimming) are excellent for conditioning vital organs, burning unneeded calories and removing body fat. The combination of these exercises in conjunction with a good stretching routine and a sensible approach to eating will aid in bringing about total-body fitness.

Before beginning any type of physical training, you would be well-served if you had a thorough medical examination by your doctor. This examination should include a check of your heart and blood vessels, your lungs, your blood pressure and muscles, and your joints. Your blood should be analyzed for cholesterol and triglycerides, and a resting electrocardiogram (ECG) should be assessed.

Next, you should apply unwavering effort as the prime mover in making meaningful progress toward achieving your goals. To this end, a game plan is useful to better enable you to stay the course. You should set aside a fixed hour of the day to exercise for 20 to 60 minutes at least three times a week. And you should attempt to keep exercising interesting by engaging in more than one sport and by not performing the same workout routine every time you train.

The tedium of doing the same thing, the same way, over and over again, is the main reason why many people quit working out. But with intelligent planning, you can lessen the odds of quitting. Those exercisers who alternate their workouts tend to find the journey to an agile, youthful body and quick mind a much easier, more enjoyable adventure.

By weight training one day, running or walking another day - and stretching after every workout so as to preserve flexibility - they are able to maintain their motivation and keep exercising a fun-filled experience. More importantly, they lower the risk of overuse injuries by emphasizing different muscle groups of the body at each training session. So remember that variety facilitates not only in adding to overall fitness but also helps to keep the workouts from becoming redundant and stale.




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