Exercise: The Best Anti-Ager
Want to look and feel your best well into your 40, 50s, 60s and beyond? Forget about spending money on the latest anti-aging creams and lotions. Instead, invest your time and energy in an exercise plan.
“If you’re involved in regular physical activity, you are doing some really amazing things for your body,” says Dr. Greg Wells, an assistant professor in the faculty of kinesiology and physical education at the University of Toronto.
For starters, the very act of breathing harder has an impact on better health. You breathe harder, says Dr. Wells, because your body needs oxygen to improve all aspects of your oxygen transport pathways, including your lungs, heart and muscles. “Exercise helps make almost every tissue in your body healthier and better,” he says. That means feeling and looking better inside and out – a veritable fountain-of-youth effect.
In fact, says Jonathan P. Little, an assistant professor and a specialist in exercise physiology at the University of British Columbia, Okanagan, recent studies on exercise and aging are changing the way we think about getting older. “There’s research to suggest that maybe what we think of as normal aging – losing fitness and muscle mass – has more to do with inactivity,” says Little. “As you age, you tend to not be as active, so maybe some of what we thought was the aging process is just a lack of activity.”
In addition, says Dr. Wells, there’s evidence that links regular physical activity to a decreased risk of chronic illnesses, such as cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s and certain types of cancer. And the good news is, you don’t have to run marathons to reap the benefits. Walking, cycling, swimming, yoga, golf and other lifestyle activities will boost your body and your brain. The key, say the experts, is consistency.
With that in mind, here’s a look at how exercise can keep you healthy, fit and looking and feeling younger, whatever your age.