Training Like an Infant

Training Like an Infant

Infants have a lot to teach older adults about exercise. So do toddlers and preschoolers. Next time you’re with your grandkids or in a park where some kids are playing, just observe.

Through continuous play and movement exploration, young people develop their neuromuscular systems, gradually developing strength, balance, coordination, and agility. With each and every movement, they are mastering a physical skill, without even thinking about it, no spandex or elaborate equipment required. Watch this great video:

You saw some familiar exercise moves with names like the Cobra Pose and Superman. The dad is smart to get on the floor with his child to get a free lesson and good workout.

Older adults will benefit from following their excellent example. This infant is rapidly gaining valuable physical skills to get up and navigate through life.

We were all once like children naturally learning everything we needed to function in our everyday lives. However, as time went along, many of us became more sedentary and very limited in the range of motions we used on a routine basis by over-using TV remotes, leaf blowers, and cars.

Through decades of adult inactivity, many of those skills gradually became dormant and forgotten. In our culture, “old” people are expected to become frail and feeble and make it a self-fulfilling prophecy by becoming less active, causing a premature physical decline.

If doesn’t have to be this way if you train like this infant. She moves, tires out, rests, moves again, tires out, rests, moves again…For her, there’s caring about how she looks to others or whether her form is perfect. She just keeps on moving and smiling, even when her little arms give out.

Just try it. Move, rest, smile. Again…

 

 

 

 

Muscle & Long Life

Muscle & Long Life

Turns out muscle does more than give your body nice curves and move you around. It also extends your longevity.

New research out of UCLA  on older adults found that those who had the highest ratio of muscle mass lived longer. The authors of the study concluded that we’d all benefit from paying less attention to fat and indicators such as Body Mass Index and just focus on building more muscle, which we can do into very old age.

muscle

The summary of the research doesn’t speculate on the mechanism(s) that muscle is correlated with longevity, but some strong possibilities jump to mind:

First, as discussed of  ago, muscle tissue produces a peptide called myokines that has been linked with a stong immune system.

Second, muscle plays a key metabolic role in the body by improving glucose (blood sugar) response, preventing insulin spikes and fat storage, and preventing inflammation associated with many chronic diseases.

Finally, muscle mass maintains your balance and prevents falls. When falls do occur, muscle acts as a shock absorber to prevent bone fractures, especially to the hip, that can lead to disability and death.

What’s important to understand is that muscle mass isn’t developed by long bouts of walking, treadmills, or biking. All these aerobic activities, though beneficial especially for our hearts, will not develop skeletal muscle (look at elite marathoners).

Muscle mass is developed by resistance exercise (body weight, weights, rubber tubes, sandbells, etc.) and high intensity training (HIT) that includes some power exercises such as jumping or sprinting. Older adults are often surprised that they can still do these, and how good they feel afterwards.

That’s our goal in The Younger Games – happier now, healthier longer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Younger Mind-Older Body Gap

The Younger Mind-Older Body Gap

Like Dirty Harry said in Magnum Force, “A man’s got to know his limits.” Of course, so do women. To maximize the benefits of exercise, sometimes we need to bump against our limits to progress. However, at the same time, we need to be smart in how and how much we exercise in order to avoid injury.

youngergames

That’s easier said than done because assessing your own risk of injury can be difficult because of an age related delusion about your physical condition in which your mind thinks your body is much younger than it really is. We’ll call it the Younger Mind-Older Body Gap.

Here’s how it works – strange as it sounds. When you turn 30, you think/feel you are 24, or 6 years younger than your actual age. Then when you are 40, you think/feel you are only 32, or 8 years younger than your actual age. Then when you are 50, you think/feel you are only 40, or 10 years younger. Then when you are 60, you think/feel you are only 45, or 15 years younger. Then when you are 70, etc. See a pattern here that might make you prone to injury?

There are two kinds of limits to recognize as you choose how to exercise.

The first are real physical limits that must be respected. Many older exercisers have old injuries from work and recreational activities that permanently altered the structure and function of certain body parts. No amount of exercise will “cure” them and therefore those joints or muscles need to be approached cautiously. As a starter, if an exercise is new to you that involves a problem area, it should be tried out first, slowly and gently, and with few repetitions, never to fatigue.

The other type of limit is self-created. It’s the attitude of “I’m too old for that” or “I was never very good at that” or “That’s too hard.” Each of these may not be true. Time and again, we’ve seen older exercisers discover they aren’t too old, they are good at any activity with some practice, and it’s not too hard when they train systematically to accomplish an exercise goal, which can be as simple as doing a good squat or skipping a rope.

While you might not be as physically capable as you were in your youth, the right exercise can narrow the Younger Mind-Older Body Gap.

 

 

 

Muscle as Disease Fighting Superhero

Muscle as Disease Fighting Superhero

We tend to think of muscles in very limited ways, as simply a means to burn calories or make our bodies attractive, but they do much more.The evidence is mounting that muscle fights disease.

superman

It’s widely known exercise helps prevent heart disease, Type-2 diabetes, and obesity. Studies also show that show that exercisers have lower rates of certain cancers, including breast, colon, and prostate. The mechanisms by which this happens are not fully understood by medical science. They know, for example, that exercise strengthens the immune system.

Doug McGuff, MD, author of Body by Science, posted a blog at his website citing this study by some Danish researchers with an exciting discovery about muscles.

It turns out when muscles are contracted via either aerobic or anaerobic exercise, they release a type of peptide called a myokine that communicates directly with other organs and effects what the organ does. For example, myokines help increase production of glucose in the liver to provide energy to cells.

But that’s not all. These myokines may be the reason exercise fights many cancers by actually slowing the proliferation of cancer cells and suppressing tumor formation. When the Danish researchers took incubated breast cancer cells and exposed them to myokine rich blood serum, the myokines activated a process that caused the cancer cells to self-destruct (apoptosis), just like occurs in chemotherapy.

So just follow the First Lady’s advice: Let’s Move!