Prevention is always the best cure, and by adopting 10 simple anti-aging exercises into a functional fitness routine to increase your strength, flexibility and heart health, you can retain your youthful vigor and appearance while avoiding many of the common conditions that accompany aging, such as osteoporosis. These exercises target areas of the body that frequently suffer painful and debilitating degeneration if not properly stimulated — especially knees, hips and shoulders. A recent study conducted at the Lausanne University in Switzerland entitled “The Exercise — Anti-Aging Connection” firmly concludes that “Regular physical exercise is a cornerstone in the anti-aging game.”
1. Toe Touches – Lift your arms above your head and slowly bring them down in a graceful arc until you touch your toes. Hold for 10 seconds. This helps you to increase and maintain your range of motion so you continue to bend down without pain. Repeat this exercise to increase the range of motion in your spine and legs.
2. Balance Exercises – Lift your arms above your head again, but this time rise up on your tip toes and stretch up as far as possible. Hold for 5 seconds. Gradually lower your arms to shoulder level while finding your center of balance. Then slowly lower your arms as you sink down on your heels. Repeat until you feel centered. This will help you maintain your inner balance and avoid accidental falls.
3. Shoulder Stretches – Stand up straight and extend your arms behind your back. Clasp your hands behind your back. By ‘unlocking’ the muscles in your shoulders, you have more flexibility to reach high shelves and remove objects without causing strain.
4. Hip Circumduction – Put your hands behind your back and stand on one foot while you raise the other a few inches and point it forward. Slowly rotate your foot in a circular motion. Stand on both feet again, then repeat the motion with the other foot. This strengthens the muscles that surround your hips to help protect against hip fractures.
5. Squats – With your hands extended straight out, do some simple squats to strengthen your torso muscles and improve your balance so you can easily get in and out of cars.
6. Resistance – Place your hands against a wall and lean your body at an angle while on your tip toes. Feel your calf muscles and your upper body strengthen. This resistance helps to strengthens bones against osteoporosis.
7. Shoulder Stretch – Rotate your shoulders in a circular motion to increase lubricant in your joints and decrease joint pain.
8. Tricep Extensions – Sit up straight in a chair, place your hands on the arm rests lift yourself up 15x to increase your upper body strength.
9. Plyometric exercises – Stand on one leg with arms slightly behind your body. Propel your body up as high as possible, reaching up your arms and springing from your legs. Perform 3 times in rapid succession, then lower your foot and repeat on the other side. This “Michael Jordan” move creates the kind of explosive energy boost that maintains the muscle power that we lose as we age and is good for carrying suitcases.
10. Core muscles – Now that all the outer muscles are warmed up and flexible, it is important to set the ‘core muscles’ that support your body’s framework. Stand up very straight with your feel planted firmly on the ground. Contract your abdomen by imagining you are drawing your belly button down to the base of your spine. Once you have the bottom muscles set, imagine there is a cord coming from the center of your chest pulling your breastbone up. Naturally allow your shoulders to fall back as you look up. Breathe normally while you hold this position and tighten all of your outer muscles around your core muscles. Maintain full body tension as long as possible, then relax them all at once. Repeat numerous times, noticing how your body tightens a little more with each repetition.
Once you have completed your routine, rest for a moment and allow your heart rate to return to normal. Also drink a glass of water to help remove any toxins that your body naturally releases when exercising to further enhance the anti-aging effects of your functional fitness.
In terms of exercise videos, one size does not fit all. That’s why Suzanne Andrews, founder of Functional Fitness on PBS TV and president of Healthwise Exercise, offers exercise videos for specific health conditions with 2 – 3 levels of fitness. Doctor recommended too! Learn more at http://www.healthwiseexercise.com
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