Do ever wish you were in high school again? Me neither….but there are days when I wish I had the physical body of a high schooler! Whether you are 40 or 80…I don’t need to tell you that the way our body feels as we age changes. For many of us, looking back on the things we did with our body as a youth leaves us longing for the days of not noticing body aches, pains and discomfort. We realize how nice it was to not have to feel our body so much and not to feel limited in our life by those aches, pains and even injuries that seem to have crept up on us over the years. We find ourselves asking…how did I get here? I used to be so flexible, so strong, so ache free! We find ourselves feeling helpless to the natural aging process that leaves us feeling creakier and less mobile than our younger days.
I wish I could tell you I had a magic pill that could make your body feel like it did when you were 20…but you already know there is no magic pill. The good news is though that there are lots of ways you can use your movement time in your life to slow down the progression of the “feel of aging” in your body. Safe movement time that maintains and builds strength and mobility in your body might be the closest thing out there to a magic pill for aging! Try incorporating these simple but magical concepts into your life and see if they make a difference in how your body feels:
- Maintain and Build Strength After 30 it is possible to lose 5% muscle each decade if you are not proactively doing exercise and movement in your life that will maintain and build strength. Strength training comes in lots of different forms and it really doesn’t matter how you do it as long as you are doing movements that are safe for your body and target where you need to strengthen. You can use weights and do a traditional strength training type workout, you can use your body weight as resistance and do things like squats, push ups, tricep presses etc., you can use resistance bands or you can take up movement practices like Pilates or Yoga that incorporate strength training into everything they do.
- Maintain and Improve Flexibility Feeling less flexible as you get older really isn’t related so much to your age but to the fact that you stopped using your muscles in the ranges that you did when you were younger and so they continue to get tighter and tighter and before you know it it feels like you can barely bend over to tie your shoes! What’s the key to maintaining and even gaining flexibility and mobility as you age? The key is to practice movements that stretch your muscles to what feels like close to their end range. Just plain stretching will accomplish this or you can practice movement that has a stretching component built in like Pilates or Yoga.
- Maintain and Improve Core Strength Maintaining strong core muscles will give your body a support system of strength that will help you do everything you want to do in life better. Whether your movement goals are running a marathon or piggyback rides for your kiddos…core strength is the key to doing these things well and not getting injured! Core strength will keep your back feeling healthy, mobile and keep it injury free.
- Keep Practicing Balance Kids are natural at balancing and the reason they are so good at it is that they practice! Kids are always naturally working on balance when they are climbing things, playing sports, and playing at the playground. As adults we start to lose the ability to balance because we often don’t challenge ourselves to do it. Feeling uneasy about balancing our bodies in space is uncomfortable and usually brings up feelings of feeling “old”! Start practicing you balance at home or take up a practice like Pilates or Yoga that continually works on challenging your balancing skills.
- Practice Your Breathing This one seems so simple and silly that most people ignore it…until they discover how much it can help them. Learning to breathe well and use breathe in your movement and exercise time can not only help you move better it can help you destress and reduce anxiety. Moving with ease and feeling a sense of ease through our bodies…feels youthful. It also helps with circulation which in turn helps everything in our body function better and leaves us feeling more energized. Breathing can be practiced on its own or you can find a mind body practice like Pilates or Yoga that incorporates breath into each movement.
I love to multi task so practicing Pilates or Yoga just makes sense to me when it comes to the perfect anti-aging exercise. These mind body practices build strength, improve flexibility, strengthen your core, improve your balance and on top of it all leave you feeling less stressed and energized because of the breath focus!! As a teacher one of my favorite classes I teach is one I named Anti-Aging Pilates Equipment. This small class (5 people maximum) combines exercises utilizing the Pilates equipment and a series of functional balance stations to work on this whole list above! The balance stations are designed to safely challenge balance and strengthen in a way that prepares us for life’s balance challenges(not falling when we trip on the side walk, balancing a 3 year old on your shoulders so they can see better, etc.!). All exercises are beginner friendly and participants range from 30 to 80 in age…because let’s face it we all need anti-aging Pilates no matter what age we are!