Wouldn’t it be great if there really was an elixir of youth; we’d all be tempted to drink from the bottle, but we’d certainly have to pay a King’s ransom to do so.
Until someone finds it (in a parallel universe ), it’s comforting to know that exercise can mitigate some of the effects of aging. Below are a few key examples which don’t remove wrinkles, but far more importantly help to promote quality of life:
- By helping to preserve muscle mass – muscle mass is lost at a rate of between 3 -5 % every 10 years after the age of 40. Exercise continues to challenge the musculature which helps to maintain and develop muscle tissue.
- By helping to build strength – strong muscles increase the stability of joints, which not only helps to reduce injury, but is also essential for balance and ease of movement.
- By working muscles correctly it’s possible to make postural improvements – vitally important for ease of movement as well as a reduction in the pain caused by muscle adaptations. For example, when we spend long hours hunched over a computer, or performing any repetitive tasks in one position, muscles adapt and become shorter resulting in pain or discomfort.
- Weight bearing activity improves bone mineral density and reduces the incidence of fractures. This is especially important for women as oestrogen levels dip both during and after menopause. But it’s equally important for men who wish to maintain the bone density and strength of youth.
- Exercise has a positive impact on the psyche promoting feelings of wellbeing. There’s also a sense of achievement, and self-esteem – so important at any age.
Never think that you’re too old, or too unconditioned to start or resume an exercise programme. No one has to settle into comfortable inactivity as the years go by, and the beneficial effects of fitness are not out of reach at any age.
No elixir of youth exists, but we can future-proof both our bodies and minds against the ‘slings and arrows’ of passing years by incorporating exercise into our lives – and it won’t cost a King’s ransom to do it.