What should your fitness goals be in terms of health?
To maintain a healthy lifestyle and promote longevity from a fitness point of view you will need to focus on two areas mainly. Strength and flexibility, which both together make-up mobility and independent of where you are in your health journey and what is your age you need to carefully look into the below tips.
The below tips are just the starting point and looking at fitness from a longevity perspective. Having big bulky muscles requires more energy from the body to maintain and does not always translate to strength. We are interested first and foremost at quality (via myofibrillar hypertrophy)
- Be active in your daily life.
Prefer the stairs to the lift, and use the bike on your everyday life. Make active lifestyle an integral part of your life. In the reading suggestions you can find some interesting information about the Blue zone areas, the areas with the longest life expectancy. There the people move around at a low to moderate pace most of the day by walking around the household, riding a bike, doing gardening to grow their own food, hiking in nature etc. It’s important to stay mobile and active throughout the day and keep your energy levels-up (which translates to having health energy producing mitochondria).
- Maintain your muscles
The human body inevitably deteriorates with age. After the age of 30, aging is characterized by a progressive decrease in skeletal muscle. This process is called sarcopenia and it can happen at a rate of 3-8% reduction per decade. From the age 40, lean tissue and strength get reduced by about 1% per year. Keep in mind that even very athletic people’s bodies consist of 30-40% muscle, which isn’t that much. That makes maintaining your musculature an incredibly vital component of healthy aging and longevity. Additionally, when losing muscle you body you will still keep the fat.
- Work on your flexibility, elasticity and proper posture
A lot of injuries can be a result of tight ligaments and joints as a result of our modern lifestyle. Chairs, tables, sofas and couches were not how our the earlier man used to sit. There are areas where most of us even at young age are pretty tight and this is mainly due to the fact that we never train our fascia, the connective tissues around our muscles. This luck in movement is a great limiting factor as we age and needs to be addressed by changing some of our daily habits.
How to start?
- Walk around. Use walking or cycling whenever possible.Purchase a fitness wrist band and track your steps if that helps you. 6000 steps is a good measure.
- Incorporate 10 minutes of fascia stretching first thing when you wake-up. This will be enough to wake you up and you will very fast see big changes. Start with the hip and hamstrings.
- Whenever possible sit on the floor in a simple Lotus-like posture. My kids love reading and preparing for school while on the floor. Do the same, maybe even when watching TV.
- Start with cardio but prefer strength training.
- At the beginning of your transformation i suggest incorporating an easy jog for 20-30 minutes to develop your cardiovascular fitness. This should be at an easy pace and while being able to hold a conversation. That’s when your heart rate is below 60-70% of your VO2 max. In this way you will be burning fat and avoid muscle breakdown because of glucose depletion.
- Once you feel comfortable and having already incorporated walking into our life we need to start building some quality muscles. Quality is a very important word here,since quality will provide strength vs. size. Generally speaking the same advice goes for men and women alike.
- Fitness is a lifestyle incorporated in your daily activities. Fitness will make you feel strong and confident in yourself, while being free of pain and limitations.
- Walking during the day provides all the cardiovascular fitness you need.
- ‘The Secrets of a Long Life’, National Geographic, November 2003, https://bluezones.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/Nat_Geo_LongevityF.pdf
- Kraschnewski, JL. et al (2016) ‘Is strength training associated with mortality benefits? A 15 year cohort study of US older adults’, Prev Med, Vol 87, p 121-127.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26921660
- When it comes to fascia training I suggest Dylan Werner’s programme. https://youtu.be/jAsrnYyvrw4
- Hip opening postures https://youtu.be/jCSnfbgj4u0. Pick on the variations that suit you for sitting.