Most of us know that the body can deteriorate and wear down with age. But, as my good friend Chris Crowley, co-author of the NYT bestselling Younger Next Year series, says — you can basically halt that decline until your late 80s or 90s with diet and exercise.
Chris is absolutely correct, and I want to add to his comment that the RIGHT exercise plan is key. This following statement might shock some of you: Exercising the wrong way can be worse than not exercising at all.
From a musculoskeletal/biomechanical perspective (my specialty), exercising the wrong way can actually accelerate the natural deterioration of the joints that comes with age. After all, exercising is just a sped up, higher resistance form of everyday movement. Poor movement habits and poor posture are the main causes of the aches and pains so commonly associated with aging. Add speed and resistance to those poor habits, and you can really do some damage.
Key to a Long Life
At FITFOREVER, we believe cardiovascular exercise will give you a long life, but strength and mobility training will make that long life worth living. What we mean is that you have to keep a healthy body and joints to keep doing the things you love and avoid pain and injury. Jogging or riding that exercise bike won’t do that for you. It takes a comprehensive strength and mobility approach to give the important joints in the body (think hips, shoulders, spine) the support they need to continue to do our favorite activities while counteracting all of the sitting and slouching we do . Most cardiovascular exercises only work one group of muscles or one side of the body — leaving you unbalanced, tight, and prone to pain and injury. But just any strength training plan won’t cut it either.
Related: Chris Crowley on: Aerobics & Strength
It’s All About Your Form
It’s crucial that any strength and mobility program is designed with good posture and proper biomechanics in mind and that the execution of that program focuses on good technique. A lack of attention to either will cause injury, pain, or poor athletic performance. Learning the fundamentals of good posture and movement in the beginning will pay huge dividends to you as you progress through your program and as you age. Once you’ve mastered good form with little resistance and slow speed, THEN progress by carefully increasing speed, weight etc.. while ALWAYS letting form be your guide and limiting factor. In other words, don’t get in those last few reps or that extra 5 pounds of weight by heaving, slouching, and twisting to do it. You gain nothing and risk everything.
A good functional strength training program should FEEL good and your body will know it. As you progress, you’ll notice increases in range of motion, balance, agility, flexibility, endurance, and stamina. You’ll also notice a decrease in pain and fatigue. This is what makes long life worth living. And yes — a body that looks good is a wonderful side effect.