Find balance and a better leg workout with these four exercises from Gold’s Gym Fitness Institute trainer Ramona Braganza.
Forget about Botox or facelifts—turn back the clock with these simple guidelines that will help you look and feel forever young.
In 2008, Americans spent an estimated $1.6 billion on antiaging products, Smart Money magazine reports. But Dr. Eric Plasker, author of The 100 Year Lifestyle and a Gold's Gym Fitness Institute member, says there are better, cheaper and more natural ways to reverse the signs of aging and live a longer, healthier life.
“The fact that 100-year-old people are the world’s fastest-growing population segment shows us that we are able to live long, healthy lives,” he says. “Premature aging is often the result of unhealthy lifestyle choices.”
To demonstrate this point, a revolutionary new fitness tool is being rolled out in many Gold’s Gyms nationwide. By inputting some basic information about yourself into a program called the Gold’s Gym Visual Fitness Planner, you will receive a full health-risk appraisal and learn your Health Age—a number that factors in not only how many candles topped your last birthday cake but also your level of fitness, your family history and your lifestyle habits.
After reviewing your health risks, the Gold’s Gym Visual Fitness Planner creates a customized 3-D avatar that shows exactly how your body will change with diet and exercise. For example, a 25-year-old female in Chicago found out she had a health age of 45. It surprised her because she was only 10 or so pounds overweight. Her shocking health age was due in part to a family history of cancer and heart disease but also her lack of exercise and a smoking habit. She quit the smokes and started working out more often. In 9 months, she lowered her health age to 28.
With the help of Plasker and Adam Friedman, a certified personal trainer, licensed nutritionist and Gold’s Gym Fitness Institute member, we’ve mapped out four steps to turn your body into its own rejuvenating Fountain of Youth.
Step 1: Exercise, Exercise, Exercise
We probably don’t have to tell you that exercise has all kinds of incredible health benefits. Like drastically reducing your risk of developing major chronic illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer. That’s old news. But did you know that regular exercise fights off the effects of aging?
“Exercise improves our circulation and moves lymph tissue, a fluid in our body with a high concentration of white blood cells,” Friedman says. “It helps accelerate healing and boosts our immune system to fight bacteria and cancer cells.”
In his book The 100 Year Lifestyle, Plasker prescribes a four-times-a-week exercise regimen that incorporates cardio, strength training, and core and balance work (see "The Fountain of Youth Workout" for details). "Working out takes you off the weight-loss, weight-gain roller coaster and regenerates your body to keep it young," he says.
Step 2: Eat Like an Infant
It seems counterintuitive, but when it comes to managing healthy weight, babies have it all figured out. They eat small but nutritionally dense meals every three to four hours and stop when they’re full.
“They didn’t learn this,” Friedman says. “It’s just what their body is telling them to do; it’s instinctive. We get conditioned to do breakfast, lunch and dinner because that’s what society says we do, not because that’s what our bodies want.”
Friedman recommends that adults adopt a similar schedule in order to maintain stable levels of blood sugar. When your blood sugar crashes, your body enters starvation mode, and it is likely to take what your body doesn’t use for energy and store it as fat.
Every three to four hours, reach for a snack that combines lean protein, good carbohydrates (like those found in whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables) and some fats. And, Plasker adds, avoid the “white devils”: white flour, white sugar and white rice.
After about a month of eating this way, Friedman says, your body will come into balance and begin to naturally release excess body fat, instead of storing it.
Step 3: Stand Up Straight
Your mother was right: It turns out that good posture is key to counteracting the effects of aging. “The spine protects the nervous system,” Plasker explains. “So damage to the spine can affect every cell of your body in a negative way.”
Plasker says it takes a conscious effort to recognize and correct bad posture habits such as slouching, sleeping on your stomach and sitting all day long.
“We know that sedentary lifestyle contributes to rapid aging and disease,” Plasker says. “The President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports estimated that excess sitting will cost the U.S. more than $1 trillion over the next 10 years.”
So what is perfect posture? Stand up straight with your head up, earlobes aligned with the middle of your shoulders. Lengthen your neck and pull your head toward the ceiling, keeping your shoulders back, your knees and your back straight, and your abdominal muscles tight.
For more about the benefits of good posture and balance, and a workout that can help you improve yours, click here.
Step 4: Think Good Thoughts
If you need proof that stress is a primary factor in aging, just count the number of gray hairs on any U.S. president’s head after his first year in office. But new evidence from the University of California at San Francisco reveals that exercise can reduce the effects of stress-induced aging at the cellular level. Scientists at the university found that as little as 42 minutes of physical activity over the span of three days reduce the wear and tear on telomeres, segments of DNA linked to several health problems, such as heart disease and diabetes.
“Exercise is an incredible outlet that counteracts the effects of stress,” Friedman says. “It supports being happier because there’s a great post-workout euphoric feeling that’s addictive in a really good way.”
Another study, from Purdue University, adds credence to the saying “You’re only as old as you feel.” In the survey of about 500 people ages 55 to 74, respondents who felt young for their age said they had greater confidence in their cognitive abilities later in life.
The Fountain of Youth Workout
Adapted from Eric Plasker’s best-selling book The 100 Year Lifestyle, this full-body workout incorporates Plasker’s formula for longevity: endurance, strength and structure. The endurance comes from doing cardio, which supports a healthy cardiovascular system. The strength you gain from weight training enables you to maintain a greater level of independence as you age. Structure refers to a healthy spine and nervous system, both are maintained by core work and help you gain a greater sense of stability, reduce back pain and remain active no matter how old you are.
CORE AND BALANCE
A personal trainer can help you tailor time, reps and intensity to your fitness level. End your workout with five to 10 minutes of gentle stretching.