These following four types of exercises will keep you younger than your years – stretching, balance, cardiovascular and strengthening.
STRETCHING prevents injury to the muscle and its tendons. Formal exercises such as yoga, the exercise ball, or just plain yawning are healthful. Contrary to popular opinion, pulsing stretches should be performed as a gradual tightening until mild discomfort of the muscle group, holding for a brief time and then relaxing. This maneuver should be repeated three times. Hands to the sky, touching the toes, twisting (torquing) the abdomen and chest on the pelvis from side to side and pulling back the ankle to the buttock are some examples.
BALANCE is particularly helpful in older people. They prevent falls with subsequent broken bones. Programs like Tai Chi and dancing are great, as is the big ball. After feeling confident sitting on the ball, try to recover after moving on the buttocks to a near-fall. Recently, the half ball has become inexpensively available to stand on. Another exercise is standing on one foot for 30 seconds without holding on.
STRENGTHENING exercises builds muscles, as well as turning fat into muscle. Weightlifting, resistance machines and holding one’s own weight against gravity (push-ups) are recommended. Fewer repetitions (reps) with heavy weights are suggested. Between 8 and 12 reps with 30 second between each set are advised. The last rep should be so difficult that one could not do another one to “save their life”. Bench and military presses, biceps curls and that one could not do another one, and shrugs are examples of these.
CARDIOVASCULAR ENDURANCE includes fast walking (to slight shortness of breath), running up and down stairs, dancing, stationary bike, treadmill, running, jogging, or just a CD or videotape with aerobics. During this time, 4 separate periods of peak effort are recommended for 60 seconds, such as running as fast as one can, or pushing the pedals as fast as possible. This builds up the mitochondria (the individual cellular motors) within the muscle fiber, enhancing the metabolism of fat, decreasing insulin resistance, and thus preventing the cardiometabolic syndrome and diabetes. Moreover, this improves the most important muscle of the body, the heart.
HOME TRAINING is doable. Certainly it is easier to exercise in a Gym and with a training partner who will passively hold you responsible if you do not show up. But if that is not possible, a workout can be done at home without any special equipment. Such exercises as SQUATS and PUSHUPS, with the latter putting the toes and knees for women and the toes only on the floor for men, lying prone and pushing up with their arms. Another is a DIP, with the back of the feet on one chair, the hands on the arms of another chair and with the buttocks between the chairs, extending and flexing the arms. The abdominal muscles can be exercised by SITUPS, which is lying supine on the floor with the toes under a piece of heavy furniture and sitting up, touching the elbows to the knees. Several variations of the SITUP are done, such as touching the elbow to opposite knees, and sitting only half way up (CRUNCH). Also standing facing a wall and putting the hands on it three feet or so from the floor and pushing back. These resistance exercises build muscle. Resistance exercises help more for weight loss than the cardio exercises. Another method of building healthy muscle is ISOMETRICS. Here one contracts opposing muscle groups simultaneously and hold that tension using good posture as tight as one can for at least a minute. It is helpful to do this looking into a mirror. For every one pound of muscle an individual puts on, the body consumes an extra 100 calories extra to maintain and service that muscle. To put on 5 pounds of muscle, one can have 500 free calories a day, or if eating the same diet, this adds up to 3,500 calories a week, which is equivalent to 1 pound of weight loss! Jogging requires only a set of running shoes and the “track” is just outside your front door. Do not forget about the all important bursts of fast running during the jog. Once the ideal weight is obtained, the “appestat” will be reset to maintain a healthy better looking body.