Mark Twain said, “Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.”
Let’s face it, growing older is inevitable. Rather than simply sitting back and letting the aging process take its toll, exercise can reduce the effects of aging and actually be the secret to the ever elusive fountain of youth.
Listed below are 3 of 6 ways that exercise can reduce the effects of the aging process:
1. Increased activation of the muscle responsible for tone and definition.
Type II muscle fibers are the larger fibers responsible for creating muscle definition and “tone.” Type II fibers are responsible for generating muscle strength and power and are controlled by type II motor units – the connection of the nervous system to the muscle which acts as a spark plug to initiate muscle action.
If type II motor units and muscles are not used the motor units lie dormant and the muscles become smaller and lose definition.
Strength training with heavier weights and power training with explosive movements will keep the type II motor units and muscle fibers active improving their tone, definition and metabolic function-the ability to burn calories while at rest.
2. Improve architecture of the entire myofascial system.
Anatomy books traditionally show muscles as being separate, distinct units. In reality muscles are surrounded by tissue known as fascia which links all muscles together into one inter-connected system. A more accurate way to think of muscles is not as independent units but as different layers inter-connected by fascia. Fascia has elastic properties and surrounds ALL muscle fibers from the larger bundles of fibers traditionally referred to as individual muscles down to individual strands of fibers.
The layers of fascia lie against one another like the different layers of plywood, except that that the layers of fascia are designed to slide against one another during movement. If the fascial layers do not move over one another regularly, or if the fascia does not express the full range-of-motion it is capable of, collagen fibers will begin to form between the different layers. When a muscle develops an adhesion from a lack of movement, repetitive motions or poor hydration it is because the various layers of fascia are binding together.
Collagen is an inelastic fiber that can develop between layers of fascia limiting the ability of muscle to lengthen and shorten. If collagen starts binding between layers of muscle it can reduce the ability of that muscle to move a joint to go through a full range-of-motion. Doing the same exercises over and over, or using exercise machines which provide a strict path of motion can actually exacerbate this problem and reduce the ability of muscle tissue to efficiently lengthen and shorten.
Doing exercises that gets the body moving in multiple directions, lifting different weights-from light to heavy-at varying rates of speed will help all of the layers of fascia maintain an optimal ability to lengthen and shorten while controlling movement and significantly reducing the risk of developing adhesions.
3. Enhance levels of the hormones related to maintaining a youthful appearance.
The real anti-aging benefit of strength and power training stems from the fact that using heavier loads and explosive movements can elevate the levels of testosterone, growth hormone (GH) and insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) all hormones that can play a role in helping to maintain a more youthful appearance.
Going to a doctor to receive GH injections can be very expensive and painful. Paying for a prescription for Testosterone can be expensive and there is the risk of side effects from using synthetic hormones.
Reduce the risk and boost hormone levels naturally by lifting heavy weights or training explosively. The only side effects are more sweat, better sleep patterns and weight loss due to a greater level of energy expenditure from the increased exercise.
Coming soon, the other 3 ways that exercise is the fountain of youth.