4 Key Reasons Why Mobility and Longevity Are Linked

TWhile aerobic exercise and popular fitness indicators such as balance and grip strength are routinely considered essential to supporting a healthy, long lifespan, there is an often overlooked metric that underscores all of the above: mobility. If you don’t maintain your mobility, which simply refers to the ability of your joints to reach their full range of motion, you’ll find it more difficult to maintain a cardio or strength-training regimen without injury and get all the gains. It has physical-health benefits. Not to mention, maintaining your mobility as you age can directly boost your mental and emotional health, as well as contribute to your overall longevity in many ways.

Over the years, science has shown that people who use mobile phones regularly — about 7,000 to 8,000 steps per day (or the equivalent of 30 to 45 minutes of exercise) — live longer than those who don’t, and that insufficient physical activity can increase mortality. But recently, more evidence has gathered to show just how negative the effect is immobilized Maybe, too.

“People are realizing that spending too much time being inactive can almost wipe out the beneficial effects of some exercise.” —Joe Varghese, MD, neurologist

“The flip side of being mobile is being sedentary, and now, people are realizing that spending a lot of time passively can almost wipe out the beneficial effects of some exercise,” said Joe Varghese, MD, chief neurologist in the Division of Cognitive and Motor Aging at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

In fact, a recent study of 3,700 people who wore activity trackers for a week found that those who exercised 30 minutes a day and sat for more than 10 to 12 hours showed significantly worse measures of cardio-metabolic health than those who exercised similarly. Standing or walking around for 30 minutes but throughout the day, doing what the researchers call “light activity.” That being said, maintaining your mobility throughout life can increase longevity through two broad channels: the health benefits gained from being mobile and the health harms avoided. no being, well, immobilized

Below, experts break down exactly how these connections pan out, especially as you age.

4 ways staying active can increase longevity

1. It allows you to be active *safely* (with less fall risk)

Falls are the leading cause of death among people age 65 and older—and those who struggle with mobility are at greater risk of falling. Conversely, maintaining your mobility and the full range of motion it has can make you a more effective navigator of uneven surfaces, curbs, and other common trip hazards. As a result, it makes you less likely to fall and sustain the kind of injury that can seriously shorten your lifespan.

The tricky paradox with fall prevention in older people, though, is that anyone already Suffering from mobility problems or limitations, they may be doing mobility exercises or simply being mobile in the form of walking more At risk of falling (say, sitting in bed all day).

“Slow motion and random steps [which are more common in the elderly and in folks with cognitive decline] In fact, they predict falls,” says Jeanette Mahoney, PhD, associate professor of neurology at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. “So, if a person walks slowly or has an unsteady gait, asking them to walk more for mobility may actually increase their risk of falls and death.” (This is why many hospitals actually immobilize elderly patients, despite the well-known harm of doing so.)

To reap the longevity-enhancing benefits of mobility, work needs to be done before physical limitations develop. Or, if you already have mobility issues, it could mean doing exercises like wall push-ups, squats or even just walking under a doctor’s guidance or using an assistive device like a cane or walker, Internal-Medicine says. Physician Michael Rosen, MD, is the author The Great Age Reboot. “Though whatever age they are, people is Being able to increase their strength and consequently their mobility, which is a very worthwhile thing.”

Once you’re more mobile, you can walk more (and more safely), which comes with longevity-enhancing benefits, from improving cardiovascular health to supporting metabolic activity and improving mood. And according to recent research, even a short walk can go a long way with age: A study that followed more than 7,000 people age 85 and older over several years found that those who walked for at least an hour per week (just 10 minutes) a day, on average) had a 40 percent lower risk of death than their inactive counterparts.

2. It helps prevent weakness

Although it is characterized in various ways, the concept of frailty generally refers to an “accelerated depletion of physical reserves”—the medical term for weakening or dysfunctioning of various body systems, such as even a minor infection, fall, or injury. Difficult to recover from. “This is often seen in someone who walks slowly, loses muscle strength and becomes less active, and is associated with being more vulnerable to the daily stressors we encounter in our environment,” says Dr. Varghese. “You can create a buffer against weakness by being more mobile, because it helps maintain muscle strength.”

“You can build a buffer against vulnerability by being more mobile.” -Dr. Varghese

Activating your muscles regularly has downstream effects on other body systems. “When you put pressure on a muscle, you improve the function of the blood vessels so they dilate and contract better,” says Dr. Risen. “This allows your heart to respond more effectively to stressful events, meaning you’re better able to tolerate a faster heart rate whenever it happens.”

Stretching muscles can increase the lung’s ability to work through their full range of motion, improve blood flow to the brain and support bone health, Dr. Varghese says. And all of the above strengthen the body against the degree of frailty that is common with aging, hence increasing longevity.

3. It improves cognitive function

For years, researchers have been accumulating evidence that aerobic exercise, even including light to moderate physical activity, can reduce a person’s risk of cognitive decline and dementia — which can help them live longer. And a recent study that followed nearly 80,000 participants over seven years at the UK Biobank found that these benefits even extended to walking: those who walked just under 10,000 steps per day had a 50 percent reduced risk of dementia. All of which makes another compelling argument for maintaining mobility—in this case, as a way to protect the brain.

Much of this mobility-cognition connection is likely linked to the hippocampus, a brain region associated with memory and spatial navigation that has been shown to be smaller in both slow-moving people. And cognitive decline. Conversely, walking and aerobic exercise can actually increase the size of the hippocampus, according to research in older people with multiple sclerosis and mild cognitive impairment. As for how? This is likely thanks to a specific hormone released during exercise called irisin.

“When you stress a muscle—for example, when you walk—you turn on a gene that makes irisin, which then crosses the blood-brain barrier and itself turns on another gene that makes brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). . , the hippocampus, or memory center of the brain,” says Dr. Risen. The result is a unique brain-supportive benefit to moving your body that will allow you to continue it for a long time in life.

4. It enhances the quality of life and relationships

When you’re more mobile, you’re more likely to get out of the house and less likely to stay at home, Dr. Mahoney says, which can support mental health.

Not only does being able to get around without problems give you your freedom and independence, but it also increases your chances of connecting with your local community and maintaining friendships and other social ties—all of which can help you maintain a sense of purpose in life and your Increase well-being. In contrast, a 2013 study of nearly 700 older adults found that those with less mobility had significantly less Higher mobility is more likely to engage in social engagement, leaving them more vulnerable to the depressing effects of social isolation than their mobile counterparts.

“The interconnection between being mobile, being independent, keeping your brain active and meeting other people promotes a healthy lifestyle in old age,” says Dr. Mahoney. “And all of these aspects play a large role in a person’s continued will to live, which is an important factor in longevity.”

How to maintain your mobility as you age

In addition to regular walking, which Dr. Risen calls one of the best mobility exercises, he recommends incorporating some combination of lunges, squats and wall push-ups into your fitness routine. But beyond regular workouts, there’s a deceptively simple way to test your mobility every time you get up from a chair: Do it without using your hands or arms, he suggests, to activate key core and leg muscles seamlessly.

To flex your body’s full range of motion in new ways, check out this 12-minute mobility workout:

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