Eat well and exercise to turn back the clock

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It’s an inescapable fact – we’re all getting older and although you can’t stop the march of the years it is possible to slow down the effects of aging; enabling you to enjoy life more and for longer.

As you age three things happen: a loss of lean muscle mass; an increased difficulty to lose weight and a loss of bone strength.

James Staring of Fit To Last ( explains why these changes take place – and how we can use diet and exercise to slow the aging process and delay its effects:

As we age our muscles lose their ability to respond to growth encouraging substances, including insulin. This can lead to insulin resistance – a contributing factor in obesity and Type 2 Diabetes. However correct nutrition can help prevent this.

Switch from processed to unprocessed (ditch the white bread and white rice, opt for the whole grains). You’ll stabilise your blood sugar and avoid insulin resistance. And make sure you consume two to three portions of oily fish per week (ie mackerel, fresh water salmon). This will keep cells healthy and ensure the required nutrients get where they need to go.

Colourful fruit and vegetables: think bright and deep colours and make sure you’re having five to seven portions a day. In addition to the antioxidant qualities of berries and apples, multi-coloured vegetables carry a range of different nutrients.

After the age of 25, with each passing decade individuals experience a two-four per cent decline in their Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR). This is the calorie requirement to perform your body’s daily functions.

This means that as you age it becomes more difficult to lose weight.

Starting an exercise regime now will help you retain muscle mass as you get older. Developing a regular habit of exercise (this can include walking, swimming, yoga, or other activities involving your whole body), you’ll maintain muscle mass and improve joint health.

A natural consequence of ageing is that our hormone production decreases. The onset of menopause (for women) which includes the decrease in oestrogen production starts at an average age of 51. An important side effect of this decrease in hormonal output is increased risk of osteoporosis, or a loss of bone strength.

Supervised weight bearing and resistance training using exercises that load the bone along the length will help prevent osteoporosis.

Choose exercises that use more than one joint, or involve complex movements.

No one wants to get old, but if you start to exercise regularly and eat properly now, you can keep yourself in a ‘state of denial’ and fend off the clock for a lot longer, smiling along the way.