Maintaining an Active Lifestyle Now Impacts How You Age

When we’re young we can feel invincible, but as we age, that invincibility can slowly deteriorate. The short-term goal for many is to maintain an active lifestyle throughout their twenties and thirties. The thinking behind this is that if you start young, the habit will carryover into the golden years. One of the key ingredients in this scenario is sustainability. The long-term goal should be to maintain a healthy lifestyle no matter what decade of life someone is in.

An Active Lifestyle is a Mindset

In its simplest form an active lifestyle incorporates physical activity into every day life. The time invested in activities like walking, biking, running and strength training are well worth it. Maintaining a consistent routine with such activities will keep chronic disease at bay. A physically active lifestyle is beneficial for the body and the mind. The by-product of an active lifestyle improves everything from quality of sleep to

Three Types of Physical Activity

Physical activity consists of three components, muscular strength, cardiovascular endurance and flexibility. It’s important to focus on these individual components and add each one into your weekly training program.

  • MUSCULAR STRENGTH

Muscular strength is defined as the maximum amount of force a muscle or group of muscles can produce during a single bout of exercise. There are many reasons why this is so important to maintain throughout ones life. One of those big reasons is lean muscle mass. If you don’t engage in regular strength training you lose muscle mass. Period. If you do not strength train regularly, as you age, you become part of a statistical group that loses approximately 5-8 pounds of lean muscle mass with each passing decade starting at about age thirty-five. Let’s just end by saying those numbers get much worse after fifty.

  • CARDIOVASCULAR ENDURANCE

Is the ability to move the body over a sustained period of time. It’s critical to improve and maintain cardiovascular fitness throughout your lifetime. By doing so, you’ll reduce your risk of developing heart disease by increasing the efficiency of your heart, lungs, and blood vessels.

  • FLEXIBILITY

This is the ability of a muscle or group of muscles to move through a range of motion. Flexibility is a component of mobility.

“Given what we know about the health benefits of physical activity, it should be mandatory to get a doctor’s permission not to exercise.”

~ PER-OLOF ASTRAND, MD, PHD, KAROLINSKA INSTITUTE, STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN

Benefits of Maintaining a Lifelong Active Lifestyle

Here are a few examples of the benefits associated with enjoying an active lifestyle.

  • Research published in 2013, in the journal Lancet, reported among people with early signs of pre-diabetes, taking an extra 2,000 steps each day, or the equivalent of a 20-minute moderate-paced walk, helped lower their chances of heart problems.
  • Over the course of a yearlong study, an additional 8 percent lower risk of heart disease was observed for every 2,000 steps walked a day.
  • Scientists from University College London performed a meta-analysis of peer-reviewed journals between 1970 and 2007. The studies evaluated 459,833 test-subjects who were absent of cardiovascular disease at the start of the investigation. The subjects were followed for an average of 11.3 years with all cardiovascular events recorded. Their analysis makes a strong case for the benefits of good old walking. The study showed walking reduced the risk of cardiovascular events by 31 percent and decreased the risk of dying by 32 percent.
  • The Harvard Alumni study found men who average at least eight flights of stairs a day enjoy a 33 percent lower mortality rate compared to men who are sedentary.
  • Research shows that people who sit the most have a 112 percent increase in the Relative Risk (RR) of diabetes and a 147 percent increase in the RR of cardiovascular events compared to people who sit the least.

Review of Physical Activity on Awareness & Mood Levels

A research paper published by Berger titled Psychological Benefits of an Active Lifestyle looked at the key benefits derived from an active lifestyle. According to Berger, “exercise has many benefits…, it is important to explore ways in which exercise might become something one “wants” to do several days a week. Possible sources of enjoyment and motivation for physical activity may include “feeling better” or mood alteration; stress reduction; and enhancement of self-concept, self-awareness, and even self-knowledge.”

Adding the components of physical activity (strength, endurance, flexibility) into your workouts will allow you to make the most of each day. Finally, turning this into a habit now when your young will pay back stronger dividends when you’re older. Stay Strong!

Understanding the Impact of Biomarkers

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First, what are biomarkers? They include hundreds of different metrics that basically offer insight into how your body is managing the aging process. A few examples include, blood pressure, muscle mass, aerobic capacity, heart rate, blood profile, and different genetic tests. In fact, these metrics, or biological markers, can be broken down into various categories.

Let’s look at a few of the suggested markers from the book, Biomarkers: The 10 Determinants of Aging You Can Control by Bill Evans, PhD and Irwin Rosenberg, MD. They focus their research on ten biological markers that would be interesting to individuals like you who exercise. The following list includes three of the ten biomarkers discussed in their book.

Muscle Mass: A Very Important Biomarker

This is at the top of their list for good reason, maintaining muscle mass as you age is critical for functionality. This first and second biomarker go hand-in-hand and you know the importance of both (beyond just looking good). Let a month go by without strength training and see what happens to that mass mass and strength level of yours. Our body, sadly, begins to detrain in as little as a few weeks.

If you don’t strength train on a regular basis you’re basically an accident waiting to happen. Further, you will become part of the statistical group that loses approximately 5-8 pounds of metabolically active lean muscle mass each decade starting around age 35. Researchers Evans and Rosenberg have said “the first biomarker, muscle mass, is responsible for the vitality of your whole body.”

Maintaining Strength

It’s important to understand that maintaining both muscle and strength as you age is really important. When someone strength trains for the rest of their life they end up maintaining or improving many of the other biological markers. When muscle mass and strength decrease, so will other biological markers.

With the loss of muscle mass comes the loss of strength and power. Strength appears to peak between ages 25 and 35 and maintained (or decreases slightly) between ages of 40 and 59. Strength levels declines by 12-14 percent per decade after 50 years of age, according to research. The good news is that if you engage in regular strength training, you can preserve both strength and muscle mass, as shown in the photo below of the 40 and 70-year old athletes (hint: they have roughly the same amount of muscle mass 30-years apart).

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Basal Metabolic Rate

The third biomarker, basal metabolic rate or BMR, is interrelated with the first two metrics on the list. Basal and resting metabolic rates (also known as BMR and RMR) are basically an estimate of the amount of calories your body needs to function properly while at rest. It represents the minimum amount of energy (calories) needed for your heart to beat, for your lungs to function properly and to maintain a normal body temperature. Metabolic rate is typically 6-10 percent lower in women compared to men. Metabolic rate is also affected by age, exercise, stress, temperature, hydration, high altitude, sleep and frequency of meals. Regular exercise, especially strength training, has been shown to slow down the natural decrease of metabolism with age.

These are just three of the of the many hundreds of biological markers available to monitor. Regular strength training will have short and long-term impacts on each of these biomarkers. Just a few more reasons to stay strong!

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Strength Training Review: 5×5 Split Routine

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The benefits of strength training performed on a regularly basis are well documented in scientific literature, magazines and on the web. There are many digital health & fitness companies who have apps that enable you to build strength training programs. With so much information coming your way, what type of program is actually best at helping you get results? In this case, when talking about results, we’re referring to gains in both strength and muscle development.

15 Benefits of Strength Training

  • Increases muscular strength
  • Builds lean muscle mass
  • Improves a muscle’s ability to take in and use glucose (blood sugar).
  • Weight management
  • Decreases body fat level (Improves muscle-to-fat ratio)
  • Improves mobility and balance
  • Reduces the risk of osteoporosis (increases bone density)
  • Will boost your self-confidence and improve your body image
  • Enhanced performance (on all levels)
  • Improves sleep
  • Decreases risk of injury
  • Improves posture
  • May reduce or prevent cognitive decline in older people
  • Prevents or controls chronic conditions such as heart diseasearthritisback paindepression, obesity and pain management
  • Increases lifespan

Take a look at the following 5×5 split routine found on the Jefit app. This particular weight lifting program was designed as a 3-day routine. Keep in mind, there are many other split routines you can find that offer 4-6 days versus 3-days.

Program Design: 5×5 Split Routine (3-Days)

All strength training sessions follow a 5×5 format using only two body parts to keep session times under an hour. The workout time range for the 3-day program was between 36 and 56 minutes. The recovery time between sets is a very important training variable that needs to be manipulated depending on load (sets x reps x weight). Adequate recovery is important in order to push that next heavy set. A key point to remember, using a short rest period of one-minute between sets means the muscle is only about 80% recovered. I used a 2:00 recovery time between most of the sets for this reason. That may have to increase if someone is using very heavy weight for all their exercises.

The routine gets its unique name from “splitting” up specific muscle groups and associating those body segments to different days of the week. The idea behind the design of this routine was to couple a leg day with pulling movements that overload the back on Day 1. The second day includes push movements that target the chest with a pull and push for the arms. On day 3 you have pressing movements that target the shoulders with a few core exercises. This routine is only a snapshot for one-week of training.

The 5×5 program used the following 3-day split format over the course of a week:

Legs & Back (4 exercises) – Day 1

Chest & Arms (4 exercises) – Day 2

Shoulders & Core (5 exercises) – Day 3

Sets & Reps Scheme

Be realistic when designing any exercise program regarding the number of sets and repetition you use. More is not always better. Different exercises, sets, repetitions and recovery time will effect both short and long-term outcomes. Using a 5×5 setup gives you 25 repetitions per exercise and two movements per body part brings that repetition total to 50. That is more than enough to overload a muscle using a 5-RM. Many programs out there, when looking at sets and repetitions, equate to unrealistic expectations regarding length of workout. A repetition goal of 25-50 is more than enough to stimulate muscle growth, as long as you’re using a 5-RM. Here is a nice article on how to perform a 5-RM bench press test.

There are four important design elements regarding this particular 5×5 split routine. They are: (1) the use of compound movements, (2) large muscle groups, (3) the use of 5-RM on all exercises, and (4) sufficient recovery time. A 5×5 split routine is popular and has been shown to build strength and muscle size over time. Special emphasis should be placed on your 5-RM in this strength training routine. During anytime in the program, if you’re able to surpass five repetitions for any exercise – that’s right – you need to increase the weight. If for example, an exercise on your “core” day (see below) is too light – then hold a weight plate or wear a weighted vest (if available) to challenge yourself more. See the design and layout below.

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I hope you enjoy the program. If you have any questions on this particular 5×5 Split Routine (3-day), now featured on Jefit app, or any other program for that matter, please reach out to me in the comment section on this blog or our online community via the app. Here is some additional reading that you may find interesting on the topic of strength training. Be well and stay strong!

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