As a society, we spend millions of dollars on skin-care products, cosmetic surgery, organic foods, preventative medicine, supplements, books and media in an attempt to educate ourselves and make wise decisions on how to maximize our health and live longer lives.
We read what we can on the topic, listen to the experts and implement as many adjustments to our lifestyles as possible in an attempt to stay younger longer.
Probably the single most important element that has a positive effect on our longevity is an intelligent movement and exercise program. Over the past couple of decades, the fitness industry has grown in leaps and bounds - mainly because people are feeling the benefits of a regular movement/exercise program.
Your "healthy habits" result in more energy, reduced stress, lower cholesterol, better functioning systems, reduced risk of heart disease due to more muscle and lower body-fat percentage.
This kind of lifestyle basically gives you your best chances of fulfilling your dream, which is to feel younger and live longer.
As a teacher and leader in the wellness and fitness arena for over 30 years, I am amazed sometimes at the choices people make regarding their fitness routines and how these routines subsequently affect their body, mind and spirit.
One thing I can say as a fact is that not all exercise is alike.
Some exercise can actually accelerate the aging process of your body if you are not paying attention to the results and long term affects of those movement choices.
How can that be?
Isn't all exercise beneficial?
As long as you break a sweat and breathe hard, are you not gaining some long-term advantage to your choice of exercise?
The answers to those questions are complex, but basically it is true that over the long haul, some exercise can cause more harm than good.
Consider this: As we age, the human body atrophies to some degree and each year we lose a small percentage of muscle density, bone density and joint elasticity, unless we incorporate an exercise program that counteracts these effects.
Knowing that certain types of movement increase joint tightness and reduce flexibility, why would anyone want to make these types of exercises and movements a part of their regimen?
It is mostly from a lack of knowledge and information or that we turn a blind eye to that information because our immediate choice offers present day enjoyment and release.
But over time, the movement decisions that we make in our 20s shows its effects in our 30s. The movement decisions we make in our 30s shows in our 40s and so on. So before you know it, you are middle aged with bad knees, scared hamstrings, herniated discs and a candidate for hip-replacement surgery.
Take it from me. As a distance runner in college in the '70s, I destroyed the lining and cartilage of my hip joint and if it wasn't for our Core Fusion program at Exhale Spa, physical therapy and regular sessions on my Styrofoam roller, I would be a candidate for a hip replacement as well.
The smart thing to do, at an early age is:
- Chose exercises and movement patterns that increase flexibility and range of motion in your joints
- Do weight-bearing exercises to increase bone density
- Do strength-training exercises to increase muscle density
POLL: Do you stretch?
So what about running, jogging, spin classes and cardio in general?
These are all good choices, but should not be primary choices of exercise or you risk throwing your body out of balance.
Cardio is a bit blown out of proportion in the eastern world as we have become a culture obsessed with being skinny. The irony is that because the muscles are the engines of the body that burn your calories and produce your energy, strength training is a more efficient way of burning calories than cardio. Click here to read The Cardio Myth, by Fred DeVito.
Simply because strong, dense muscles give you a higher RMR (resting metabolic rate) and that results in more calories burned 24/7 - not just the 60 minutes that you are involved with the actual exercise activity.
For more health and weight-loss tips:
About the Author: Fred DeVito is a founder of Exhale Spa, an urban spa oasis merging mind and body, and co-creator of the Core Fusion class at exhale. Fred began teaching fitness in 1978, as a physical education instructor in the public school system.