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Ageing (dis)Gracefully

From expensive foods and supplements through to skincare products and cosmetic surgery, everyone wants to stay young for as long as possible. As it turns out, however, the best way to stay youthful and age gracefully is available to everyone and costs absolutely nothing. Time and time again, regular exercise has proved to be the best way to stay young, with physical workouts able to lower the levels of inflammation that are responsible for subjective ageing and so many age-related diseases.

Ageing gracefully is about many things: keeping a positive attitude, staying flexible in your body and mind, and doing the aerobic and strength exercises that are required to keep your body in shape. According to one study published in the journal Circulation, people who are more active have lower levels of inflammation and are less likely to suffer from physical and mental health problems as they age. 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity each week, including activities such as brisk walking, is a great way to reduce inflammation and improve health outcomes as you age.

While acute inflammation is a natural response, it sometimes gets carried away and leads to chronic inflammation. This can occur for many reasons, most of which fall into one of the following three categories: a failed attempt to eliminate the causes of acute inflammation, autoimmune disorders which attack the body by mistake, and long-term exposure to dietary or environmental stresses. Reduced inflammation has been shown to improve skin health, bone health, and weight-loss efforts among countless other health benefits.

Aerobic exercise is not the entire answer, however, with strength-based routines also needed to improve long-term health outcomes. According to a new report produced by Public Health England (PHE), too many people are neglecting to do the exercises needed for strong muscles and bones as they age. While aerobic exercise is a great way to reduce chronic inflammation and improve the health of your heart and lungs, other workouts are needed for muscle and bone strengthening. Ageing gracefully isn't just about looking good, it's about being able to function at your optimum level for as long as possible. If you want to stay active and independent, flexibility and balance training should be a priority.

According to Dr Zoe Williams from Public Health England, "Being active isn't just about getting your heart pumping - although this is a good way to begin. Strength and balance activities work in conjunction with cardio activities like brisk walking, and come with a range of health benefits throughout your life - it's never too late to start."

Recommended strength and balance activities include ball games, dancing, resistance training, cycling, and yoga among others. Along with 150 minutes of cardio each week, people are also advised to do strength exercises on two or more days each week in order to workout all major muscle groups.

Image source: kurhan/Shutterstock

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