The Fountain of Youth: How Exercise Makes You Feel Younger
It’s no secret that exercise is great for you. But the older we get, the more important it is to remember this. Of course, we can’t reverse our chronological age. However, exercising can improve your health to the point where you look and feel younger that you actually are. From boosting your energy levels, to improving your flexibility, here are the ways exercising can make you feel younger and fitter.
Exercise gives you more energy
Feeling run down and exhausted all the time? You’re not alone. It’s only natural that as we get older, the more responsibilities we have and the more fatigued we become. It’s an unfortunate equation, but it doesn’t have to be this way.
Exercise is one of the best ways to boost your energy levels. According to a recent survey, 58% of Australian seniors say being physically active makes them feel younger. Scientifically, it helps strengthen your cardiovascular system and muscles, and create more mitochondria (the cells responsible for energy production).
But what’s the most efficient way of exercising? The answer is two-pronged. Essentially, the goal with exercising is to not only create more mitochondria, but also to strengthen the ones we have. So to maximise your energy, you need both steady and interval training.
Basically, the idea is to do most of your training at low intensities but also include a small amount of high-intensity workouts.
Exercise keeps your skin healthy
Exercising keeps your skin healthy in both direct and indirect ways. Overall, keeping active lowers your stress levels, which can work wonders for people prone to skin conditions. More directly, exercise increases blood and oxygen flow to the cells, which flushes out free radicals that contribute to signs of aging.
Studies have shown that people who lead lifestyles of regular exercise versus those who don’t show differences in both the outer layer skin (which gets thicker with age) and the inner layer (which gets thinner with age). As you might guess, the active people showed skin with younger characteristics. The good news is, starting an exercise routine now will make a positive impact in the future. So it’s never too late to begin.
Exercise improves posture and flexibility
Living with bad posture is living dangerously. As we go about our daily business, it’s easy to forget how we hold ourselves. However, the worse our posture becomes, the more prone we are to muscle and ligament imbalances that lead to all sorts of problems – from headaches and stiffness, to fatigue and breathing problems. To fix your posture, you need to get professionally assessed, identify areas that need work, and exercise and stretch accordingly.
Similarly, targeted exercise can improve your flexibility, helping you gain strength, size and prevent injuries. There are many ways to go about flexibility training, but it’s important to recognise there isn’t one perfect routine. To figure out what works for you, it’s best to chat to a professional trainer who understands your body.
Exercise boosts the power of your mind
While exercise certainly helps you look younger, it can actually make you happier. There’s a clear link between exercise and improved mental health, particularly in the way physical activity changes the levels of chemicals in your brain such as serotonin, endorphins and stress hormones. And while exercising isn’t a cure for depression, stress or anxiety, studies have shown how it helps manage and treat the symptoms.
The thing is, your exercise routine doesn’t have to be intense. Even just walking three times a week for 30 minutes can make a big difference. If you need some motivation, simply start small with activities like shopping, gardening or household tasks. Do what’s enjoyable, include friends and family, and while mapping out a routine helps – try and keep it flexible too.
Exercise helps you sleep better
Ever been told that exercise helps you sleep better? While this is definitely true, it’s all about timing. Your body temperature increases during exercise and then drops afterward. While this post-activity dip makes you feel sleepy, it can take up to six hours for it to happen. That’s why if you want to make the most of the sleep benefits of exercise, it’s best to work out or go on your run five to six hours before going to bed.
Don’t worry if this isn’t possible, because exercising at any time is good for your overall health – helping reduce the stress, depression or anxiety that’s possibly keeping you from happily dozing. The interesting thing is, the connection works both ways. The better sleep you have, the more likely you’ll be to commit to exercise. Before deciding on a routine, chat to your doctor or a professional trainer on what types of exercise will benefit you most.
Your heart will thank you
Exercising saves you from a broken heart – literally. If you’re exercising regularly, you can lower the risk of getting coronary heart disease (CHD). Regular exercise can help control some of the risk factors of CHD, such as lowering your blood pressure, raising your HDL cholesterol levels, and helping your body manage blood sugar and insulin levels. Plus, physical activity can help reduce the risk of suffering a heart attack.
Consult your GP
If you’re ready to begin exercising, it’s best to either chat to your GP or consult a professional trainer. That way, you can understand the areas of your body you need to work on, as well as the types of routines and activities that best benefit you.