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4 Key Longevity Exercises
My “longevity motto” is “quality above all else.” I don’t simply want to live longer, I want myself and everyone around me to live “better,” to have independent, active and quality years!
The key to quality? Make squats, balance exercises, multi-directional motions and intervals “non-negotiables.”
My tagline is “squatting is life.” Think about it, we squat innumerable times every day. You squat to go to the bathroom, to sit down and get up, to get in and out of the car, and even to sit down into bed. It is almost impossible to function if you can’t squat.
Tips on squatting: Start with your feet hip-distance apart. Bend at your knees, hips and ankles so that you sit backwards — as if you were sitting in a chair. As you sit, imagine your sit bones widening at the back. Watch your knees — make sure they track over your middle toes. Engage your bum and core to stand up. Note. The squat is, in my opinion, the most fundamental strength exercise, but really strength exercises in general should be non-negotiable. Strength training increases lean muscle mass, helps to decrease the risk of osteoporosis, maintains the integrity of joints and mitigates decreases in bone and muscle mass. Don’t just squat. Incorporate a range of multi-joint functional exercises; try deadlifts and rows.
2) Single-leg Exercises
Walking and running require single-leg stability. Since walking is key for functional fitness and independence, to avoid injury I suggest training your muscles to support your body on one leg. Single-leg exercises train the body to balance, dissipate forces and provide feedback to the brain about the body’s position in space.
Try standing on one leg. Once that is easy, close your eyes and/or do a single-leg hinge: stand on your right leg, chest out. Hinge forward, keeping your back flat. Keep your left hip down toward the floor as you hinge your chest forward. Use your right bum muscles to stand up. Repeat five or more times. Switch legs.
3) Multi-Directional Strength and Mobility Exercises
We are not robots, but with age our bodies often start to feel stiff. The body becomes less subtle; we lose the ability to easily rotate, bend, step or lean sideways, and react with multi-directional movements. This lack of agility not only feels terrible, but it can contribute to injuries from doing simple tasks like rotating to get something from the backseat or reaching for something awkwardly placed. The solution? Try activities such as yoga, stretching, dancing, sports that require multi-directional motion, like tennis, and/or multi-direction strength exercises, such as side lunges.
Interval training improves cardiovascular health, places a high metabolic demand on the body, burns lots of calories in a short amount of time, produces a high EPOC (post-workout calorie burn), increases mitochondrial growth (mitochondria help to burn fat) and helps improve one’s fitness level.
On any cardio machine try rolling intervals: once warmed up, alternate one minute easy, one minute moderate, and one minute hard for nine to 15 minutes. Alternatively, try jumping rope or high-intensity body-weight cardio exercises such as burpees or jumping jacks.
The main take-away is this, don’t put off for tomorrow what you can do today! Too many of us take our bodies for granted. We assume we will be able to effortlessly do tomorrow what we can do today, or we see our bodies as they were 10 years ago rather than how they are now. Like it or not, bodies change with time. With age, our muscle and bone mass, metabolism, mobility, stamina and strength naturally decrease, unless we make a conscious effort to mitigate the changes. Your future self will be less sore, stiff and prone to injury and poor posture — and instead be healthier and happier — if you start an appropriate exercise routine now!
Regardless of age, embrace the “today not tomorrow” message. Your body will not maintain its current strength, stamina and mobility without conscious effort. If you like other forms of exercise, by all means do what you love; but make sure you also including these “non-negotiables,” starting today!
Kathleen Trotter holds an M.Sc. in Exercise Science from the University of Toronto and a nutrition diploma from the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition, and she is a C.H.E.K. Level 3 trainer, a Level 2 Fascial Stretch Therapist, and a certified Pilates Equipment Specialist. Kathleen’s recent highlights include being named one of Canada’s most influential fitness professionals. Her second book “Your Fittest Future Self” is slotted for release in January 2019.