As many of you know, I’m having a great time here on our planet earth, and I’d love to be around for quite a while longer. This is just one of the reasons why I use exercise as my magic bullet. An endless list of studies are confirming the gut feelings of many that exercise can prolong life by changing our DNA material, maintaining or improving cognitive processes and metabolism. The common belief that we should expect overall physical decline as we age is proving false. How we feel as we age may be more up to us than previously thought. A recent study done in the UK and cited in the Journal of Physiology http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1113/jphysiol.2014.282863/abstract compared the profiles of fit adults to those of people many decades younger. These adults ranged in age from 55-79 and were all recreational, but not competitive cyclists. Upon close examination, measures such as balance, reflexes, metabolic health and memory ability all were almost indistinguishable from the younger subjects.
Changes due to aging were seen in overall aerobic capacity, muscle mass and strength- If my performance and appearance change slightly due to the inevitable effects of aging- I’ll take it! I just want to know I’m doing everything possible to maintain the power, mental sharpness and energy levels to help me continue to feel young.
Another piece of good news is that it’s never too late to start, and benefits can be just as salient even if you’re a beginner. Here are some ways to begin and maintain an exercise program when the bitter cold days of winter sap your motivation.
- Just start. Find the smallest possible thing you can do right now, in the next 5 minutes, and do it. Bundle up, take a quick walk for 10 minutes or if you’re not loving the arctic weather, take 5 flights up and down the stairs. This moment of starting will be the hardest. Luckily, it won’t last long.
- Write down your own personal challenge. I will exercise for 5 out of the next 7 days, even if it’s for 10 minutes a day. Ideally, once you start, you’ll stretch out the time to a half an hour or longer if you’re enjoying it.
- Expect resistance. Sometimes you’re not in the mood. Sometimes you procrastinate to the point of inertia. Get up and just push yourself through it- once you start, it’s much easier to continue- just get yourself going!
- Gather boosters for your efforts. Friends, family members, workout buddies, or coaches are all excellent sources of support. Find someone to fire you up, then make it a habit.
- Work until it feels strange when you don’t exercise. All kinds of studies look at what it takes to make something a habit. When you feel the positive feedback loop kick in- such as overall increased energy, walking faster in less time because your fitness level is improving, and better strength and endurance, the habit will be reinforced.
- Keep a record of your progress. It is guaranteed that you’ll improve your fitness level if you make exercise a consistent part of your life. If you can do a plank for 15 seconds today, and you practice it 3 times a week, you will absolutely increase your planking time by next week because you’re activating your core muscles- watch your times improve and make a note of it !
There’s no time like the present- Start or ramp up your consistent exercise regimen and let’s stay young together!