Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Mom's Keys to Super-Aging

My mom practicing her balance
after completing 40 squats.
Meet my mom. Mom is 73 and she can out walk most of my friends. I'm always sharing exercise tips with her and Mom actually does the things I recommend. It started years ago when I suggested she stand on one foot like a stork when brushing her teeth. When that got easy, I sent her a half foam roller to challenge her balance. Balance is a key to preventing falls and broken bones according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation. Here's a simple routine anyone can follow

Mom will be adding interval training to her routine. My friend, Carol Harnett, recently shared this NYTimes article on the best exercise for aging muscles. It describes a study that looked at the types of exercise that have the most positive impact at the cellular level. As we age, the cells in our muscles do not regenerate as quickly. Exercise can help us combat this, but interval training has the greatest positive impact. 

What does this mean in practice? Mom is going to work hard on a stationary bike, elliptical or treadmill for four minutes, rest and go easy for three, and repeat three more times for a 28 minute work out. She'll throw in a few minutes to warm-up and set a goal to do this three times per week. And, because I want to be able to hike up a volcano in Iceland when I'm 72 like my mom did last year, I'll be doing the same thing. 

Mom and I plan to be "super-agers" just like these women on The Today Show who defy the effects of old age. In addition to being physically active, these folks are learning new things. They routinely push through the feeling of discomfort we all feel when we're exercising or struggling to learn something new. I'm taking a Health Economics class at George Mason University this semester. Mom's looking into taking one of The Great Courses online. (Following that link will get you a free month trial thanks to Ezra Klein at Vox.) 

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