Choose something you enjoy and begin gradually
Working out is known to improve the moods of people with depression, although why it works is still somewhat a mystery.
What is not a mystery is research which reveals that exercise intensity is not associated with the level of mood improvement. For example, in this study, all participants experienced about the same level of reduced depression after hard, moderate and light aerobic exercise.
Building regular exercise into your day will improve your day, and you can start as small as you like. Here's how.
Five ways to kick-start fasting to improve your cognitive fitness
It's daunting to contemplate how to get started with intermittent fasting. It has become synonymous with keto and faddish diets and has elements of a cult - which turns people off. That's unfortunate because intermittent fasting can keep our brain functioning better for longer.
Here's how to get started, without having to "go keto" or remove yourself from family dinners.
The reluctance to make fasting part of our lifestyle is not helped by the fact that until this year (2020), intermittent fasting was yet to be assessed in a rigorous clinical trial. The publication of a small "rigorous clinical trial" - just 58 subjects - reported "weight loss and improved cardiometabolic measures".
Intermittent fasting (IF) diets fall generally into two categories: daily time-restricted feeding, which narrows eating times to 6-8 hours per day, and so-called 5:2 intermittent fasting, in which people limit themselves to one moderate-sized meal two days each week.
Dr Mattson's two findings on how to live longer better
After a lifetime studying the how aging and the brain interact, Dr Mark P Mattson recently retired from the National Institute on Aging. Dr Mattson is a renown expert in understanding neurobiological responses to physical exercise and dietary restriction and their relationship to ageing and age-related disease.
His two seminal findings can help us all live longer better.
As we age, our brain inevitably loses its edge. But there is detailed research which shows two specific ways in which we can slow the rate of brain aging. Both are freely available and require no subscriptions, payment plans, nor coaches.
It's clear and simple but not what you might expect
The most confusing aspects of how to start exercising are to decide on how many repetitions, how many sets, what weight load, what rest between sets, etc etc. When I first enrolled in a gym more than 20 years ago, like most men I just started jiggling dumbbells about, then barbells. It was inefficient and ultimately unsatisfying.
To be honest, I wasted a couple of years which could have been better spent.
One of the things which held me back from asking the trainers was my age. I was over 50, and it was rare to see anyone else my age doing strength training. I knew enough to see that the younger ones were doing things that had little relevance to living longer better or fitness, which were my objectives. I drifted into classes, and kettlebells, and came back to barbell training years later.
Two recent studies provided the answers that would have helped me then, and it is clear and simple. These two studies compared young and old healthy adults, and older adults, across different strength training protocols.
The results are very interesting.
At home - three exercises, three sets, three times a week
As we age a loss of strength can lead to a loss of confidence in taking on resistance training. We imagine a power-lifter and the pain of training, and we revert to an all-aerobic exercise pattern. That helps our heart but not our posture and our increasing frailty.
Here's good news. Slow low-intensity resistance training will rebuild your muscle mass and help you stand taller and less likely to fall.
You can do it at home, and there is plenty of evidence of the "effect of very low-intensity resistance training with slow movement on muscle size and strength in healthy older adults".
By taking up a program, in your home, of regular slow low-load exercises, you will rebuild your muscle mass and enjoy an active life for longer.
This program will significantly slow, if not reverse, the 1% per year loss of muscle mass that is typical for adults aged 60 years and older. Just like slow cooking develops the flavour, slow training will develop your muscles (and your muscular coordination, tendons, and joints).
Do These To Walk Stronger And Live Longer
As we age, falling is one of the major causes of reduced lifespan, because of the terrible consequences of broken bones and broken spirits.
You may have had the distressing experience of witnessing a healthy older relative who fell, became inactive, and quickly deteriorated. That is why exercising - for all of strength, endurance and balance - is a key to living longer better.
The question is this: if you wish to focus specifically on more competent walking, which exercises and muscle groups should you give most attention?
I have an answer, based upon several related research studies.
Improving your sleep improves your life, try these
In order to continually perform at their best, elite soccer players use strategies to improve their sleep hygiene. We can apply some of these strategies to our own recovery from exercise, and generally to improve the quality of our sleep.
Our sleep quality generally declines as we age. We don’t have the late-night matches, the travelling, nor the intensity of the training of pro players. However chronic insomnia affects 57% of the elderly in the United States, with impairment of quality of life, function, and health.
In fact, some medical researchers call insomnia "a neglected epidemic". It is one of the most common complaints in patients with mental health problems. Furthermore, a recent (2018) study found that older people who took more than 30 minutes to fully fall asleep had lower bone mineral density than those who fell asleep faster.
Improving our sleep quality not only makes our life more healthy and more enjoyable but very likely will mean that we live longer.
Chronic stress triggers free radical storms
Our brain is negatively affected by chronic inflammation which is the metabolic imbalance caused by stress, poor eating habits, lack of exercise, or metabolic diseases. The bad news is that as we age our immune defence system becomes weaker, and we are more likely to develop chronic inflammation.
As we age we also exercise less, eat less variety of foods, go outside less often, and socialise less, which all contributes to accelerating chronic stress.
The good news is that scientists have recently come to the view (2016) that a nutritional approach to controlling chronic inflammation "opens a new window for healthy brain aging".
How to avoid becoming frail before your time
Regular running is typically the most popular mode of exercise as people transition away from the gym, their youth, into looking after a family, or during a pandemic. Running is spectacularly better than doing nothing, but even frequent running doesn't maintain muscle strength as we age.
We need to do something extra.
And it will reignite your joy of movement
If you don't know where to start with exercise, and exercise doesn't excite you, then you're not alone. I have something for your that is so simple that you'll love it. In fact, it is so simple that this one of my shortest articles.
Despite its simplicity, it will make a big difference in helping you live longer better.
Since I was diagnosed at 50 with Type 2 diabetes I've been learning how to do bone-building fitness training which lowers my age. You can too. It's your choice. Walter