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7-18-18

Health Update

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Courtesy of Russell R Van Hemert DC

Lower Your Fitness Age

Improve the quality and even length of your life by focusing on these lifestyle changes.

Unlike your real age, however, you’re not stuck with your fitness age, and you can—and should—lower it, especially if it’s equal to or greater than your real age. Besides giving you bragging rights about being younger than you really are, you’ll gain additional years in life—about one to two years, according to most studies, says Arthur Weltman, PhD, professor and chair of the department of kinesiology and director of the Exercise Physiology Core Laboratory at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. You’ll also reduce your risk of developing cancer and cardiovascular disease. Other reasons, though, may be even more compelling. “With a lower fitness age, your quality of life will improve, and you’ll be able to do more in life with less fatigue,” Weltman says.

3 Ways to Turn Back the Clock              

1. Shoot For 10,000 
A structured exercise program can be daunting, which is why it is recommended you focus on moving more throughout the day. To do that, use a fitness tracker, pedometer, or smartphone app to log how many steps you’re taking daily, which will help turn movement into a regular habit. Your goal? 10,000 steps per day.

1. To increase those steps, get creative about when you move:

 Walk the stairs during breaks at work, take your dog for an extra stroll every day, or walk whenever you talk on the phone. Not into tracking steps? Then shoot for a total of 30 minutes of activity five days a week, Weltman says. This won’t equal 10,000 steps, but it provides a similar fitness benefit by getting you moving. It doesn’t matter how you get there; choose activities you enjoy, and then mix them up.

2. Vary That Intensity
Once you’ve made 30 minutes or 10,000 steps a daily habit, add intensity so that physical activity feels slightly more difficult at times. For instance, you might walk a little faster or choose a walking route with more hills or bigger sets of stairs. Why does intensity matter? “It’ll help reduce your body fat more efficiently, which will decrease your waist circumference and weight, two of the measurements on the fitness age test,” Peeke says. If you’re logging 30 minutes at least five days a week, shoot to make at least one of those days a little tougher than others, Weltman says. He recommends alternating harder days with easier ones to decrease your risk of injuries.

3. Build Some Strength
Although aerobic exercise should be the mainstay of your efforts, don’t forget about strength training. Not only will it help you maintain your independence physically as you age, but new research has found that strength training can also reduce age-related brain shrinkage, especially after you turn 50, Peeke says. Squeeze in about two strength workouts a week, even if you’re just doing body weight exercises, like planks, push-ups, and squats.

How Young Are You?

To calculate your fitness age, visit worldfitnesslevel.org for a free quiz. If your results are higher than your real age, follow our suggested strategies to lower it. How low should you go, though? The lower the better, of course, but even landing two to five years below your real age can be beneficial, Peeke says. After four months, check your fitness age again to see if you’ve improved, and continue retesting every three or four months until you’re satisfied with where you are.

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