While focusing on building muscle may seem ideal for strength training, movements that differ from “normal” and focusing on mobility, stability, and variety can help men stay fit as they age.
Ready for some top tips for training for longevity? Let’s start with the exercise.
Move more and sit less. Your best health results come from how often you move, not from the intensity of your sessions. A study of participants with an average age of 53.4 years found that increasing intervals between sitting periods of at least one minute was beneficial to their overall health.
Take the stairs when you can. As a weight-bearing exercise, stair climbing improves muscle strength, bone density and joint flexibility. Speed also improves balance and is a lower impact exercise than running. Take the stairs at your workplace and wherever you can, gradually increasing your number of flights.
See how you move. Do you use perfect technique when you squat or deadlift at the gym, but lift everything else with your back at home? Keep your spine safe by paying attention to how you pick things up off the floor in your daily life.
Manage your mindset. Whether you’re just starting out, a casual athlete, or a former All-American star—the first step is to understand that your body changes as you age. Be careful not to get stuck in what you think you will be able to do. Use where you are today as the first criterion for improving your exercise habits.
Be brave enough to try something new. Some people cling to old habits or feel they are too old to try new activities. This can prevent you from discovering something you love – and prevent your body from reaping the benefits of trying new movements! If you want to change things up, try a bootcamp workout or Pilates.
Make it social. Being active is more than just lifting weights and time at the gym alone. Find other ways to be active And Social salsa classes, Zumba, martial arts like jiu-jitsu or tai chi, your local cycling club, and pickleball are fun, low-impact ways to add a social element to your activities.
There are many benefits to joining a fitness group. A 25-year study in Mayo Clinic Proceedings found that social sports were associated with lower all-cause mortality compared to a sedentary lifestyle. Tennis increased life expectancy by 9.7 years, badminton and soccer by 6.2 years and 4.7 years respectively. Additionally, those who are more socially engaged have a lower risk of cognitive decline.
Monitor your mobility. It is easy to assume a connection between age, use, previous injuries and knee or back pain. However, it is good to check if reduced mobility may be contributing, especially in the hips.
Try the hip-opening stretch two to six times (or more!) daily to stay loose. Be gentle with yourself and your body as you work through these poses:
- Kneeling hip flexor stretch. Get into a kneeling lunge position with your right knee on the ground, left foot flat on the ground in front of you. Keep your upper body upright and your lower back in line as you thrust your hips forward a few inches and contract your right gluteal muscles. You should feel this stretch the most on the inside and front of your knee.
- Pigeon pose. Starting on your hands and knees, reach your left leg behind you, placing your right knee on the ground. Bring your right leg forward and to the left, rotating your leg so that your right hip lowers to the ground and the sole of your right foot is on the left side. You may find it easier to reach this position by turning your knees toward the ground from a deep lunge.
- Butterfly Stretch: Sit on the ground with the soles of your feet touching in front of you. Let your knees drop to the ground. (Over a few weeks or months, you may even start to feel comfortable sitting in this position!)
- Frog/Horizontal Squat Stretch: Starting on your hands and knees, lift your knees to move them sideways until you feel a gentle stretch (side split with bent legs). Lower your body to keep your elbows on the ground, then shift your hips back to intensify the stretch. Hold a deep squat for 30 seconds or more.
Protect your mobility. One way to preserve your mobility: Use the floor more. It’s always easier to sit on chairs, seats, couches, and beds, but sitting on the floor helps maintain your mobility. Try sitting on the floor while watching TV or getting up close and personal when playing with pets or children. As you move up and down from the floor, you will use and strengthen your core.
Check your posture. “The missing part of almost everyone’s workout is posture-based training,” says Danny Choi, an online personal trainer focused on longevity. “Think about the axles on a car – if they’re not aligned, and one side is higher than the other, the wheels will wear out very quickly.”
Danny’s top pose tip? Watch for rib flares, which are continuous bony protrusions of the lower ribs that don’t fall down during exhalation or when you raise your arms overhead. You can identify them just by looking in the mirror. These bony protrusions can occur on the left, right, or both sides of your rib cage. Rib flare is associated with poor rib position, weak abdominal muscles, passive obliques, and excessive extension of the lumbar spine.
One exercise she uses to test and correct her clients’ posture: the bridge with overhead reach. Lie on your back with your knees bent so that your feet are flat on the floor. Reaching overhead with both arms at an angle that doesn’t arch your back arms at 45 degrees is an effective range. While pulling your rib cage down and drawing your belly button toward your spine. Take four to six deep breaths and do two to three sets once or twice a day to maintain your posture.
Consider working with a coach or trainer. A coach can provide you with valuable guidance and accountability so you can get on the right track for your health. A qualified trainer can adjust your workout plan for your skill level and keep you safe while monitoring and helping you improve your range of motion.
Your longevity and health depend on each other, so make sure you take care of both. By following these simple tips, you can improve your mobility and longevity and stay aware of your body’s condition.
This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for medical diagnosis or treatment. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or condition. Always check with your doctor before changing your diet, changing your sleeping habits, taking supplements, or starting a new fitness routine.