The 5 longevity exercises a physical therapist recommends to aid you stay strong and pain-free as you age – no equipment required


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NEwton was on to the whole “moving body keeps moving” thing (beyond just physics). Longevity experts are clear: If you want to reduce pain as you age, it’s important to stay active now.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to subject your body to one grueling workout after another – in fact, it’s a lot easier and less brutal.

How to train for healthy aging

When thinking holistically about exercise for longevity, there are some common themes to keep in mind.

First think of the function

Different workouts can address different aspects of aging, such as how intense workouts affect bone strength. But nothing is as beneficial to healthy aging as functional fitness. This fitness buzzword essentially means training in a way that gives you strength that you can use in everyday movements. It doesn’t matter if it’s cardio or weight lifting.

“If an exercise leads to an adjustment that helps someone be better able to do what they need to do, then it’s functional,” explains Ryan Chow, DPT, founder of Reloada physical therapy and fitness practice where he frequently works with the elderly and elderly.

“Function is defined as ‘useful,’ ‘expedient’ — things like bending, turning, lifting, loading, pushing, pulling, crouching, and pulling,” he adds Ingrid Clay, CPT, a coach up center, a personalized coaching app. Functional fitness often impacts flexibility and balance, which are key components of healthy aging because they help prevent falls and injuries, Clay adds. Functional exercises are designed to help you, for example, get out of a car or walk down stairs safely – real-world movements we need to perform to remain independent as we age.

Do it often enough

It’s not just how you move that matters, but how much Time You spend moving. dr Chow recommends following physical activity guidelines set by the health authority World Health Organization or American Heart Association: 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-to-intensity aerobic exercise throughout the week and progressive resistance training (aka resistance training) that targets all major muscle groups twice a week.

“There is increasing evidence that this can reduce all causes of death by 40 percent,” says Dr. chow. “Perhaps more importantly, achieving these guidelines will also bring you benefits [greater] Life quality.”

Vary your workout

For best results as you age, avoid doing the same type of exercise over and over again. Mix things up instead. Even if walking is your favorite, try a yoga class or hop on a bike every now and then. This ensures you move your body in all planes of motion and maintain a strong heart, lungs, and musculature. “By doing both strength training and cardiovascular exercise, you can keep your metabolism and cardiovascular system healthy while maintaining the health and function of your muscles and joints, allowing you to be physically fit as you age,” says dr chow.

Five strength exercises you can do at home for healthy aging

Whether you are 25 or 75, these from Dr. Chow’s recommended functional exercises will help you move safely and comfortably for a lifetime. Add them to your weekly routine along with regular aerobic exercise for a longevity-focused program.

Isometric split squat

“This exercise is related to balance and getting up and down off the floor,” says Dr. chow.

  1. Bend both knees with one foot forward and the other behind so both legs reach a 90 degree bend.
  2. Hold for as long as possible, aiming to work for up to two minutes.

Modification: If the 90 degree angle is too deep to bend comfortably, hold the position slightly higher or use a sturdy object to lightly grasp and support it.

Supported deep squat

“This exercise trains both strength and mobility in the hips and knees,” says Dr. chow. Clay adds that the lower-body strength you build with squats “is important for maintaining balance and mobility as you age.”

  1. Imagine a closed door that doesn’t swing open. Feet should be slightly wider than hip-width apart and toes should be pointed slightly outward.
  2. Grab the door handle to gain leverage while bending both knees to slowly crouch. It takes five seconds to get there.
  3. Pause below for a second.
  4. Slowly push yourself through the soles of your feet to return to standing. Take five seconds to do this.

Form note: Keep the door handle tense to support your upper body, which will help maintain a straight back throughout the movement.

Wall seat with heel lift

This exercise trains the soleus and Achilles tendon to retain the ability to be springy and absorb shock in the hips, knees and ankles,” says Dr. chow.

  1. Stand with your back to the wall. Press your head, upper back, and buttocks against the wall as you kick your feet off the wall and begin to slide into a seated position with your knees and hips bent at a 90-degree angle.
  2. Lift your heels without moving anything else. Try to hold for 60 seconds.

Progress: Once you’re able to hold the wall sit with your heel raised for a minute, try to hold it on one leg and then the next for as long as possible.

bat wings

“This exercise works the muscles of the upper back to maintain the ability to stay upright,” says Dr. chow. “These are your antigravity muscles to limit the negative effects of slouching and slumping.”

  1. First, stand with your hands behind your ears, palms facing forward, and elbows extended wide.
  2. Engage your lats (the large muscles in your sides and upper back) to pull your elbows down and in toward your sides while squeezing your shoulder blades.
  3. Press and hold for five seconds.

Form Tip: Don’t crunch inward as you lower your elbows to the side. Keep your chest up. The arms mimic the letter W.

beast crawling

“This move works your shoulders, core, hamstrings, and most importantly, your toes,” says Dr. chow. “It’s important to maintain the ability to land on your toes to allow push off during fast activities like running or walking. It also controls the load on the big toe joint, which can prevent bunions from developing.”

  1. Start in a tabletop position on your hands and knees, with your toes underneath.
  2. Engage the core to lift your knees off the ground in a hover.
  3. From here, slowly crawl forward, backward, and side-to-side, aiming to keep moving and lifting your knees for 30 seconds.

Form Tip: Try to keep your back flat and hips parallel to the floor.

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