Stop the clock Why lacing up your trainers and hitting the pavement will pay dividends when the hair turns grey. Here are 10 ways running can fight old age.
1 Jog On
If you want to live longer, ditch the kettle chips, get that bum off the sofa and start running around the block. A US study spanning 20 years, published by the Archives of Internal Medicine, has shown that running can slow the effects of ageing. The study found that elderly joggers remained fit and active for longer than non runners and were half as likely to die prematurely. They were also less likely to succumb to a range of age related illnesses, including heart disease, cancer and neurological disorders.
2 Get outside
Forget the treadmill, running in the great outdoors can help you live longer. It ensures your skin gets exposed to sunlight which triggers cells in your skin to produce vitamin D which is essential for bone health, and helps to beat depression, heart disease, diabetes – in fact, just about everything.
It’s estimated that 50 per cent of adults have low levels of vitamin D, yet it is the easiest, and cheapest way to increase your life expectancy. Just 15 minutes each day, jogging around the park is enough to maintain vitamin D levels in most cases.
3 Add High Intensity Intervals
It’s important for older runners to have one high intensity workout each week, which helps to retain muscle mass and is a quick and effective way to improve your cardiovascular fitness. You need to train at about 80 per cent of your maximum heart rate during the workout. Try an interval training format of 60 to 90 second sprint intervals, separated by five minutes of easy jogging for recovery.
4 Think positive
Stress is one of the main causes of that spare tyre around your middle which can lead to heart disease in later life. So stay positive and always keep in mind that you are running because you enjoy it, you are doing it for fun, for health and because it’s a great way to keep fit. You don’t need to be competitive to get the health benefits from running.
5 Fabulous at 40
Running will improve your health, increase your level of fitness and probably extend your life, but how far should you run? Any amount of exercise will help depending on your level of fitness, but according to research by the National Runners Health Study, running up to 40 miles a week resulted in greater health benefits. Anything over that will continue to improve your level of fitness, but there are few health or life extension benefits from running more than 40 miles a week.
6 Embrace the weights
Research at McMaster University has shown that strength training can reverse the signs of aging in the cells by as much as 20 per cent. But that knowledge doesn't do you any good unless you actually get into the gym and improve the size and strength of your muscles.
7 Functional Training
The less you focus on exercises for specific muscles, and the more you focus on movement patterns that use lots of muscles, the better your body will look, feel, and perform. No matter your age, you get the most benefit from the exercises that work the most muscle in coordinated action, and do the most to improve total-body strength. Those exercises, such as squats, deadlifts, chin-ups, presses and rows, also burn the most calories, both during and after exercise, while you're recovering.
8 Rest and recovery
Whether you pound the pavements every night or hit the weights bench at your local gym, training is about putting your body under stress in calculated amounts. Too little and you get disappointing results. Too much and you don’t recover from one workout to the next. If you can’t train at least as hard as on previous workout sessions in the week, you are doing too much and not allowing adequate recovery time. Plan your training week, ensuring plenty of recovery time between sessions.
9 Cut the calories
Although there are many things which can shorten our stay on planet earth, two lifestyle factors stand out: smoking and obesity. Smoking, it goes without saying, but the evidence is strong that reducing what you put in your mouth can help lead to a longer life. Studies in animals that ate less, 30 to 50 per cent of their normal dietary intake, lived longer than those that did not. So, you porker, just because you’ve done half an hour on a treadmill, does nost mean you can scoff that third Krispy Kreme!
We don’t expect you to do the splits, but maintaining flexibility is critical to your overall quality of life and is therefore vitally important for defying the ageing process. Stretching exercises increase circulation and help you maintain a normal range of motion in your joints, so decreasing your risk of injury.