Another research-backed reason to stay active – it can reduce inflammation. This makes total sense considering that exercise also has the power to lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, reduce risk of cardiovascular disease, improve metabolism, and potentially reduce the risk of some cancers as well as improving strength, balance, flexibility and endurance!
Studies have shown that even a single 20-minute workout is enough to have an impact – and that the exercise doesn’t even have to be intense to produce anti-inflammatory effects!
“Building and maintaining strength is one of the most important things you can do at any stage of life, and it’s extremely important after age 50.” says Jordan Metzl, a sports medicine physician at Hospital for Special Surgery in New York.
“Starting sometime in our 30s, we lose up to 8 percent of our muscle mass per decade, a decline called sarcopenia, along with up to 30 percent of our strength and power. This leaves us weaker, less mobile and — especially after we cross age 50 — more vulnerable to injury from falls and similar accidents.”
It doesn’t require fancy, expensive equipment – there are limitless opportunities to increase strength, flexibility, and endurance via body weight exercises or with dumbbells, sliders, and resistance bands. It’s easier than you think, and so important to combat the negative effect of both sarcopenia and our increasingly sedentary lifestyles and way too much time sitting.
I go back and forth between states of fear/panic/hysteria and calm strength all day. One state strengthens, the other weakens. It takes conscious effort these days for me to get back to a parasympathetic state.
“The autonomic nervous system is the part of the nervous system that supplies the internal organs, including the blood vessels, stomach, intestine, liver, kidneys, bladder, genitals, lungs, pupils, heart, and sweat, salivary, and digestive glands.”
The autonomic nervous system has two main divisions:
“Sympathetic “Fight or Flight” prepares the body for stressful or emergency situations—fight or flight; thus, the sympathetic division increases heart rate and the force of heart contractions, dilates the airways to make breathing easier, causes the body to release stored energy and increase muscular strength. This division also causes palms to sweat, pupils to dilate, and hair to stand on end. It slows body processes that are less important in emergencies, such as digestion and urination.“
“Parasympathetic “Rest and Digest” -Generally, the parasympathetic division conserves and restores. It slows the heart rate and decreases blood pressure. It stimulates the digestive tract to process food and eliminate wastes. Energy from the processed food is used to restore and build tissues.” source
Recent research suggest that meditation is a powerful tool for cognitive health and I have been encouraging deep breathing and meditation practices with my clients and patients for years. A 2014 comprehensive review and meta-analysis from Johns Hopkins University investigated the effects of meditation programs on stress reduction. Beyond stress reduction, meditation has been shown in other studies to either increase the brain’s volume or slow the rate at which the brain loses volume due to normal aging or disease.
Evidence also suggest that the PNS plays an important role in regulating a diverse array of physiological functions, including; heart rate, hormone secretion, gastrointestinal peristalsis, digestion, inflammation, and immune function. And this is why I am focusing on getting back to – and remaining in – a parasympathetic state as much as possible.
There are many different types or styles of meditation, but one of the most accessible ways to change your state is via the breath.
One of the easiest is ‘box breathing’: (If you’re having any respiratory issues or this causes any discomfort, please contact your doc before proceeding).
Exhale fully through the mouth
Inhale through the nose to a count of four
Hold for a count of four
Exhale through the mouth for a count of four
Hold your breath for the same count of four.
This is one cycle. Start with four cycles, several times a day as needed to settle into a state of ease.
Make the process more mindful: touch the tips of your thumbs to the tips of your index finger. Quiet your mind to feel your heartbeat where thumbs and fingers meet. Use your heartbeat to guide the counts of four.
More mindfulness practices to come each week in April – and be sure to follow along @goalfitmethod on instagram for a daily look at implementing strategies to reduce stress.
Strength training, resistance training, weights, lifting, throwing iron (my husband’s term-not mine) – whatever you call it, you need to be sure your fitness routine includes strength training to increase muscle mass as well as to reduce your risk of sarcopenia and osteoporosis.
From the Society on Sarcopenia, Cachexia and Wasting Disorders: Sarcopenia can be characterized by the slow and progressive loss of muscle mass that is associated with ageing in the absence of any underlying disease or condition…and can directly lead to health problems including increased hospitalizations and disability, due in part, by contributing to falls, fractures, and frailty in the elderly.
Strength training can also help maintain bone density. Ref
Think you need dairy to keep your bones strong, think again. Check out Dr. Klaper’s library of resources on the negative effects of including dairy in your diet.
*As always, check with your doc before you begin any exercise program & consider working out initially with a trainer to be sure you are getting the most benefit with least risk of injury*