Healthy Habits that Hold Back the Biological Clock

By Jordan Wilson


Botox and cosmetic repair jobs are on the usual arsenal in terms of anti-ageing methods, but how about a different approach? Like going to the gym or run laps around the park instead of eating a bag of chips.

Sticking to a healthy body weight is a start but there’s more to looking good at your 40s, 50s, 60s and beyond than owning the same waist size you had at 20. Expanding middles aren’t the only body change you’re going to get with age – there’s a gradual drooping that comes with gravity and muscle loss which is where strength training helps you fight back.

By building muscle, regular resistance training using your own body weight or weights such as dumbbells, barbells, and kettle bells, helps maintain a perkier upper body as well as firmer arms and legs, says Michelle Drielsma, a Sydney-based exercise physiologist and strength coach.

“Including posture improvement exercises as part of your training can also help to give you a taller, more upright look. Good posture exercises include dead lifts and other exercises that target the back and the lower abdominals,” says Drielsma who recommends a couple of sessions with a strength coach or personal trainer to learn the correct technique.

Then there’s the effect of strength training on hormones such as human growth hormone and testosterone, both of which decline with age.

“Studies have found that resistance training raises levels of these hormones in both men and women – although not to the point of creating female hulks,” she says. “Both those hormones are important for burning fat more efficiently and for building muscle.

“More muscle also means more energy-producing mitochondria in our cells – and that means we have a higher metabolic rate which helps prevent gathering extra kilos.”

But the aesthetic advantage of more muscle and less fat is just the frosting on the cake. There are also the health benefits like a body that functions better. Good posture, for instance, keeps our bones in their anatomically correct position, reducing wear and tear on joints, Drielsma says.

As for how we eat, research into potentially harmful compounds formed in food during cooking or food manufacturing points to another reason to eat more fresh whole food. We’re less likely to accumulate too many of these compounds, called Advanced Glycation End Products or AGEs, that have been linked to skin ageing.

AGEs occur naturally in the body at low levels and can also result from the high blood sugar levels that come with diabetes or pre-diabetes. AGEs are also in many common foods, especially anything baked, fried or toasted or high in animal fat.

It’s early days for research into AGEs’ effects, but studies suggest that along with harming the immune system, arteries and kidneys, high levels of AGEs can accelerate skin ageing by attacking the collagen that gives skin elasticity and strength.

“Meanwhile, a good way of eating to keep the levels of AGEs low in food is a Mediterranean style diet where cold pressed oils, fresh produce and simple cooking styles with high moisture levels are on the menu. Japanese food is another great example.”

The original article was posted at The Sydney Morning Herald: Life & Style.

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