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7 Exercise Mistakes That Make You Look Older

Update your exercise regime to turn back the clock.

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Exercise MistakesPhoto Credit: Shutterstock

You’re always at the gym

While keeping an ambitious workout schedule is admirable, rest days are necessary, especially as muscles age. In fact, too much exercise ages you. “Intense, prolonged exercise and sleep deprivation will release and increase levels of cortisol in the blood,” sports and rehab therapist Jav Asaro told WebMD. “This will have a counter effect to insulin and increase blood sugars. These sugars go through a process and end up as a product known as Advanced Glycation End products (AGEs). AGEs then bond between the collagen fibers causing reduced elasticity, blotches, and premature wrinkles.” To reduce this type of inflammation, include at least one rest day per week. Here are 15 signs your body is aging faster than you are.

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You maintain poor posture

Whether you’re exercising, taking a walk, or sitting in front of your desk at work, good posture is a must. Poor posture, on the other hand, can reshape your spine and give you a perpetually hunched back. To incorporate age-defying alignment into your exercise regime, practice with a trainer or coach who can keep your placement in check. If postural awareness is the issue, enroll in a yoga, Pilates, or ballet class to learn the principles of alignment. These 6 posture-strengthening exercises can also help.

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You leave out power moves

Ever notice how the older you get, the slower your reaction times become? Keep yourself sharp by incorporating power moves into your exercise routine. Lifting heavy weights (as opposed to lifting lighter ones for more reps), performing explosive jumps, and running sprints with speed in mind will build fast-twitch muscle fibers and keep your reaction times quick. Stop believing these 50 fitness myths that can damage your health.

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You rely exclusively on cardio

While cardio is a great habit to get into, strength training is what will tone your muscles and help you burn calories even when you’re not working out. It’s especially important for adults: One Abbott-AARP survey found that many Americans, ages 50 and up, lack adequate strength. “While many of the adults in our survey reported exercising, cardio was really preferred. Only about a quarter of those people are actually lifting weights,” says Abbott’s registered dietitian Tiffany Dewitt. “Evidence has really shown that doing those exercises can help you maintain your muscle.” Maintaining your muscle, in turn, will keep you looking young and avoid the other ways exercise ages you. (Find out how The Social’s Marci Len fits in one-hour of cardio every day.)

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You neglect your pelvic floor

The pelvic floor might not be the first thing you think of when you consider working out, but it’s important nonetheless. “Neglect your pelvic floor muscles and you can end up with the soft round belly many women develop after middle age, as well as urinary incontinence,” Guy Andrews, MA, CSCS, told Prevention. Keep things tight with three sets of 10 Kegels, three times a day, each day, he recommends. Here are 4 more tips to help you maintain a stronger body as you age.

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You skip high-intensity interval training

Although you’ve likely heard of high-intensity interval training (HIIT), it might have seemed like a passing fad. Turns out, it’s incredibly helpful in fighting signs of aging. One study, published in the journal Cell Metabolism found that older people participating in HIIT saw a 69 percent increase in mitochondrial capacity, which helps the body create energy, as well as improvements in insulin sensitivity which can help lower the risk of diabetes and increase your metabolism. To replicate the participants routine, try three days of HIIT cycling (high-intensity bursts fused with slower-paced intervals) and two days of treadmill walking each week. Find out what to do when your motivation is seriously lacking.

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You never de-stress

Maintain a youthful glow with zen-like activities such as yoga or the martial arts. Next, read up on how to choose the right type of yoga for you. And be sure to check out these secrets from women who exercise every day.

Originally Published on Reader's Digest