9 exercise tips to lose weight and slow down ageing
1. Just do it
That's the overwhelming message. If there's one thing that can help you hold back the years for your brain and your body it's staying active. Studies show that active older people resemble much younger people in their health and physiology.
2. Start squatting
Regular squats and lunges won't just strengthen your leg muscles they could also help keep your brain young. By tracking a group of identical twins over 10 years, scientists have discovered that their leg strength was a better predictor of cognitive change than any other lifestyle factor.
3. Power up
Strength training becomes more important as you age. From your mid 30s muscle mass starts to decline and post menopause that accelerates, affecting your metabolism, strength, balance, bone health and even your diabetes risk.
4. Walk every day
Just 25 minutes could give you an extra seven years of life say German researchers. They put a group of 30-60-year-old non-exercisers on a daily walking programme and within six months blood markers showed changes in the body which help to repair DNA.
5. Stretch out
'Do it throughout your lifetime and you won't lose your flexibility,' says physiotherapist Sammy Margo. Stay active and practice these stretches * Lift your arms as high as you can up to the ceiling then push each arm up alternately, holding for 5 seconds. Repeat three times each side.* Stand up and hold onto a chair with your left hand. Raise your right knee, hold your foot with your right hand and bring your heel to your bottom. Hold for 5 seconds, repeat three times on each leg.
6. Go flat out
Just a few minutes of HIIT – high intensity interval training – can build strength and fitness in one go improving insulin sensitivity, aerobic fitness and muscle strength after just a few weeks. Dr John Babraj from Abertay University, Dundee, took a group of unfit overweight older adults and got them to do 10, six-second bursts of intense running twice a week with 90 seconds recovery time between the sprints – just two minutes exercise a week. After six weeks they all had improved muscle function, blood pressure and glucose control. 'It makes it possible for anyone to do it – you don't have to be Usain Bolt, just put in the maximum effort for you,' says Dr Babraj.
7. Run up the stairs
It burns calories, builds bone and strengthen your legs and core. Walk down to boost bone as your heel hits.
8. Stand on one leg
Balancing is a complex operation involving your muscles, eyes, inner ear and receptors in the nerves of your joints. 'Good balance is vital but it declines as we get older so if you don't use it you'll lose it,' says Sammy Margo. Tai Chi ticks all the boxes for balance, but if you don't fancy it try heel rises – rise up onto your toes as far as you can then drop down and repeat 10-20 times – or sit to stand, without using your hands get up from a chair and sit down 10-20 times.
9. Know it's never too late
Scientists at the University of Texas proved that when they put five unfit, overweight 50 year olds on a six-month regime of walking, jogging and cycling the training reversed 100% of their age-related decline in aerobic fitness and took the men back to their baseline fitness at age 20.