As we get older, many aspects of life can start to feel more challenging - and working our is no different.
Whilst regular exercise is important at any age, for many there comes a point where we need to assess the types of activities we are doing to ensure that we are reaping the maximum benefits for our stage in life.
Our guide to exercising over 50 is a great place to start - but did you know that there are some anti-ageing exercises that can actively help you look and feel more youthful? Here we round up the the ultimate workouts for knocking off the years...
Best anti-ageing exercises
1. Yoga & Pilates
These full-body workouts will help improve flexibility, strength and posture, all of which can decline with age. It’s also calming, so can help keep a lid on high blood pressure, while the focus on deep breathing can lower cortisol levels – the stress hormone that causes your body to age faster than it should.
The best bit is that it's so easy to get started - all you'll need is a mat and a good teacher. For the former, check out our pick of the best yoga mats. And for the latter, look for classes in your local area, head to YouTube or have a read of our yoga over 50 guide.
Metabolism can slow gradually from the age of 30, so jumping in the saddle is a great way to burn fat and calories – you can ramp through almost 700 in an hour – without putting pressure on your joints.
And, according to a study published in the British Medical Journal, it’s also good for keeping your heart youthful – cycling just over 20 miles a week could reduce your risk of heart disease by 50%.
It's up to you how you embrace the pedal power - you can either invest in a road or mountain bike to cycle in the great outdoors, or else jump on one of the best exercise bikes at the gym or the comfort of your own home.
There are plenty of good reasons reason to lace up a pair of the best shoes for walking and head outside. This easy weight-bearing exercise will keep you looking and feeling young inside and outside.
Bones can become weak and brittle as we age, but putting some pressure on them through walking will help them stay strong, while your legs and bottom will benefit from a youthful lift too.
What's more, if you're experiencing the dreaded middle-aged spread, walking to lose weight can be an effective strategy. An English Health Survey study showed that people who regularly walk briskly for half an hour, five days a week, are likely to have a lower BMI than people who are less active.
If you’re not familiar with a rebounder, it’s essentially a mini trampoline used to exercise on. There are more youth-boosting properties to this activity than just making you feel like a kid on a bouncy castle!
The energetic trampoline jumping increases muscle strength – including your heart muscle. What’s more, it improves circulation through your arteries, which can harden as we age, while also being easy on your joints.
The connection between your left and right brain deteriorates as you get older. But crossing limbs in coordinated dance routines - as you do in a typical Zumba session - forces both sides of your brain to talk to each other, helping reduce those ‘brain delay’ moments. Plus, doing something fun will always help you feel a bit younger!
Just be sure to wear the right kind of shoes for this activity in order to avoid injury - and that doesn't include your old running shoes. Zumba requires a good cross-training shoe - helpfully, we've picked the best workout shoes for you.
Top tips for anti-ageing your regular exercise routine
- Keep workouts short and sharp. Don’t work out for more than 30 minutes at 70% of your maximum effort, as doing more increases inflammation, which is linked to ageing. For this reason, it’s also important to take rest days, in order to give your body enough time to recover and exertion.
- Learn how to modify exercises you do regularly to accommodate any age-related issues. For example, if you are starting to struggle with joint pain, it pays to know how to do a squat to accommodate this (the key is to turn your feet slightly outwards. It will line up your hip joints and prevent stress on knees, which can weaken with age and lose protective cartilage). A personal trainer can advise on your individual issues.
- Look after your skin. The chlorine in gym showers can be drying, so use moisturizer with retinol (vitamin A), which causes skin to gently peel, revealing a silkier, more supple layer.
A word on running and ageing
‘It’s unfair to say running is harmful to joints and wears out your body,’ says Nuffield Health’s senior physiotherapist Paul Kennedy.
‘As long as you’re not training excessively and your leg muscles are strong (include squats and calf raises in your exercise regime to boost their shock-absorbing ability), running is a great way to keep in shape and stay young. It also increases blood flow, which nourishes your skin for a youthful glow.
‘If you’re new to it, start slowly, building up training gradually. Listen to your body and if you feel any niggles, stop running until it settles. If pain persists, visit your doctor or physio.’
Bad posture can also be ageing, so before you next go out, stand up against a wall and notice your stance. Try to retain this while running – it will prevent stress on your spine. For tips on what you should be aiming for, see our guide to perfect running form.
As for claims running causes facial sagging, there may be some truth in it – but only if you run long distances over a long period of time. For the average keen runner, the youth-boosting benefits outweigh any risks. But always wear SPF15 or above when running to prevent ageing caused by UV exposure.
Natalia is a health and fitness journalist who has written for the likes of Woman & Home and Marie Claire, and likes to practice what she preaches when it comes to staying fit and well. She loves the outdoors and would happily swap the treadmill for the trail at any opportunity. As such, in her free time you'll likely find her up a mountain somewhere. She has hiked eight of the major mountain ranges across four continents, including the Appalachians, the Smokies, the Sierra Nevadas (where she hiked to the top of Half Dome during her honeymoon) and the Atlas Mountains, as well hitting the summits of Snowdon and Pen-Y-Fan (Brecon Beacons), Table Mountain in South Africa and the Blue Mountains in Australia. She was also a fencer for 13 years, wielding an epée for Team GB during her teenage years. Having recently welcomed a baby, Natalia is currently getting back into her fitness routine, and has her sights set on completing a triathlon, something she and her husband started out on before their bundle of joy arrived.
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