Getting older can feel scary. Maybe it's the fear of the unknown. Or maybe it's knowing your body and mind might not be as fit or as sharp as they once were. Thinking about your own mortality can get downright depressing.
Now that we've said enough to put you in a *mood*, it's probably the right time to tell you that getting older doesn't have to be so scary. With years of experience comes a lot of wisdom and important milestones. There's a lot to look forward to, and there are things you can do to ensure you age healthily.
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You know sticking to a healthy diet will help, especially when it comes to preventing diseases or illnesses. Taking care of your mental health can improve your lifestyle. Staying on top of your doctor's visits and recommended medications and supplements is also key. But another thing you can do to take control of the whole aging process? Getting enough exercise.
A study found that physical activity promotes health and longevity—with an inverse association between physical activity and mortality. Jonathan Leary, DC, CEO and founder of Remedy Place, a new social wellness club in Los Angeles, adds that movement is important when it comes to aging. "The key to feeling better, feeling younger, and preventing injuries is flexibility," he says. "You cannot have pain in the body in an area that is properly moving! So my number one priority is to make sure that I have the proper range of motion in every joint."
Just because you have to get moving to combat the effects of aging doesn't mean you have to overdo it. Your fitness routine doesn't have to be the same as a professional athlete's, Leary says. Workouts should be functional and pain-free. "Although all movement is better than no movement, I want to make sure that if you are putting in the effort to be healthy, your workouts and exercises should be used to fix the body and not to break it," he says. "If you are doing an activity that has high injury risk, this can be detrimental to your health. If you get hurt, you won't be able to exercise at all."
He also adds that fixing your posture and working on hip mobility and glute activation will open you up and can prevent lower back pain. For specific workouts and moves that can help with aging, Leary listed some recommendations below.
"The philosophy of Pilates is to open up the body and focus on core strength. This should be everyone's main focus, to unwind the postural damage that we do every day," Leary says.
This is also a workout that is recommended for women over 50. "Hands down the best cardio workout you can do," he says. "There is no impact, and it is a full-body resistance activity. So you get a two-in-one workout!"
"Being outside in nature is so important," Leary says. "Not only can hiking be meditative and allow you to shut off (from technology and everyday stress), but it also allows you to reconnect with nature. Getting some vitamin D from the sun, breathing in the fresh air, and breathing near plants and trees can help strengthen your microbiome."
This exercise will help your shoulders and back. It requires various arm movements, moving your arms in a Y shape and doing that for a couple of reps, then a T shape… You get the idea. "I suggest practicing these with no weight, either on the floor or face down on an incline bench," he says. "This will not only help with posture but will help strengthen your rotator muscles which are commonly ignored."
This stretch can feel so good. "Another common problem I see as we age is the piriformis muscle becomes so tight (which pulls on the low back), especially if we are seated a lot," he says. "This stretch will help take the tension off your lower back."
CAR stands for controlled articular rotation, and it's basically rotating the hip by lifting and moving your knee and legs. "The intention behind the hip CARs mobility exercise is to increase flexibility and strength in all ranges of motion within the hip," Leary says. "The stronger and more mobile this joint is allows you to have a very healthy, functional, pain-free hip!"
This article is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to be used in the place of advice of your physician or other medical professionals. You should always consult with your doctor or healthcare provider first with any health-related questions. See our full health disclaimer here.