Training, nutritional and lifestyle changes can help you re-wind the clock for optimum health and longevity.
Your age influences many things about your life: your wages, insurance premiums, leisure time (including your dating habits), even your TV tastes and holiday preferences.
But it reveals surprisingly little about your personal health, fitness, vulnerability to injury and illness, or cognitive function.
What can matter, is your ‘biological age’: how your body is functioning relative to your calendar age. You’ve heard people say,”I don’t feel my age”, or,”he/she looks good for their age”.
Also known as ‘health age’, this vital statistic can reveal if you have the health of a sprinting, get up and go teenager or a sofa bound pensioner.
Let’s see how we could rewind the clock…
1) Raise your Weights-to-Cardio Ratio
Try doing two weights sessions for every cardio session.
Resistance training can prevent muscle wastage, it can trigger biological reactions that help to remove free radicals and oxidative stress, and will increase blood flow. It also boosts growth hormone, which will help you to retain bone-building calcium and fat-burning muscle as you age.
Studies have shown that people who lift weights have less visceral fat – which is linked to age-related problems like heart disease and diabetes – than those who just do cardio.
2) Do Hormone-Boosting Lifts
You don’t lose muscle because you get older – you lose it because you don’t use it. Compound moves like squats, deadlifts, bench presses and pull-ups are best for reversing the clock.
After the age of 40, you can lose 8% of muscle mass every decade, slowing your metabolism and weakening your body, so cement good habits early.
Compound lifts also increase your production of testosterone, and research in the Journal Of Clinical Endocrinology And Metabolism has linked reduced testosterone to an elevated risk of heart disease.
3) HIIT Pause With Cardio Sessions
Research by the Mayo Clinic has shown that high-intensity interval training (HIIT) slows cellular ageing by boosting the regeneration of mitochondria (your body’s energy-producing powerhouses) by up to 69%.
It also enhances lung, heart and circulation health to keep your body young.
Cardio sessions like spin classes, sprints or CrossFit classes will keep your weight down and strengthen your heart and lungs.
4) Bend the Rules of Time
To lower your body’s age you need to stay supple. Dynamic flexibility training in your warm-up or before breakfast is great. Use yoga or dynamic flow exercises to keep your hips and joints open. Sitting at a desk is terrible for our posture but, these exercises fight the bad habits which age you.
Try doing stretches throughout your working day: University of California research found that routinely sitting for ten hours a day increases your biological age by eight years.
5) Rein Yourself In
A heavy one-rep max day is fine, but not every session should be painful.
Hammering yourself every day creates cortisol and stress responses so your central nervous system takes a beating.
Your exercise should be regular – 40 minutes, five days a week will cut your biological age by nine years, according to Brigham Young University – but moderate-intensity resistance training is as good as hypertensive medication at lowering blood pressure.
6) Eat More Omega-3s
Aim to eat foods that have a natural anti-inflammatory action.Good fats like omega-3 fatty acids get broken down into anti-inflammatory chemicals in the body, which help keep your cells at a good age. You get them from oily fish, olive oil, raw nuts, seeds and avocado.
Research by Japan’s National Centre for Global Health and Medicine suggested that a traditional Japanese diet high in omega-3-rich fish delivers a 15% lower mortality rate.
A study in the British Journal Of Nutrition suggested that changing to a Mediterranean-style diet of fish, vegetables, wholegrain and unrefined carbohydrates, even later in life, brings a 25% reduction in all-cause mortality.
Research in the journal Neurology has also shown that following this diet helps you retain brain volume to ward off dementia and memory loss.
8) Aim for Antioxidants
They’ll inhibit the damaging effects of oxidation.
Foods high in antioxidants include dark green leafy veg and colourful fruit – berries, in particular, promote longevity. At meal times always aim for half a plate of non-starchy vegetables.”
For an antioxidant hit, try this body-boosting green smoothie, made from three handfuls of kale, two sticks of celery, two apples, ¼ avocado, 1tsp ground flaxseeds and water.
9) Sleep Yourself Younger
Get your eight hours. A study in Biological Psychiatry found that sleep deprivation heightened inflammatory markers linked to cardiovascular disease, hypertension and type 2 diabetes, suggesting people who sleep less than five hours a night had an “excess heart age” 5.1 years beyond their real age.
10) Remove Stress
Stress is your body’s way of responding to any kind of demand or threat. When you sense danger—whether it’s real or imagined—the body’s defences kick into high gear in a rapid, automatic process known as the “fight-or-flight” reaction or the “stress response.”
The stress response is the body’s way of protecting you. When working properly, it helps you stay focused, energetic, and alert. In emergency situations, stress can save your life—giving you extra strength to defend yourself, for example, or spurring you to slam on the brakes to avoid a car accident.
Stress can also help you rise to meet challenges. It’s what keeps you on your toes during a presentation at work, sharpens your concentration when you’re attempting the game-winning free throw, or drives you to study for an exam when you’d rather be watching TV. But beyond a certain point, stress stops being helpful and starts causing major damage to your health, mood, productivity, relationships, and your quality of life.
If you frequently find yourself feeling frazzled and overwhelmed, it’s time to take action to bring your nervous system back into balance. You can protect yourself—and improve how you think and feel—by learning how to recognise the signs and symptoms of chronic stress and taking steps to reduce its harmful effects.
A University of California study revealed that stress is linked to higher oxidative stress – which correlates to reduced longevity.
One good test is noticing if you often use words like ‘always’ and ‘never’. Thinking in extremes and absolutes is a sign of stress. Keeping a daily journal can help you achieve clarity of thought and a sense of closure – writing involves a beginning and an end; that process in itself can encourage you to find solutions.
You can do this. The important stuff stays…