Keeping in shape is the No 1 measure we can take to prevent aging. These next few exercises will help to keep you fit and strong in your everyday life.
Personal trainer and owner of Athletic Mind, David Ayres, says: “The clean-and-jerk and the pull-up are my two exercises of choice.” When you break it down, the clean-and-jerk involves pulling the bar off the ground and catching it in a front squat. You then return to a standing position and launch the bar overhead to fully lock out your arms.
“Pulling the bar has all the benefits of deadlifting; the many positional drills really give you a great workout for your back. In my opinion, anyone who suffers from back pain should train this lift,” says Ayres.
The front squat not only works your legs, but also your midline stability. “When the bar is racked on the collarbones, the amount of force needed to maintain good squat position and form fires up more abdominal work than sit-ups,” explains Ayres.
Finally, pressing the bar overhead has true strength potential, and activates your arms, shoulders and midline.
When it comes to pull-ups, Ayres believes that training on fancy machines is pointless if you cannot manipulate your own body weight effectively. “The pull-up is one of the most functional movements we have in life,” says Ayres. Ideally, you should be able to pull your own weight up for at least 10 reps.
If you are a beginner, he recommends using an elastic assistance to help you achieve your goal. The pull-up movement activates your arms, shoulders, back and chest.
Wellness expert Lisa Raleigh recommends lunging. “It works the glutes, hamstrings, quads, calves, abs and back,” she says.
To perform the perfect lunge, she suggests you lunge forward with the first leg, landing on your heel first. Then lower your body by flexing the knee and hip of the front leg until the knee of back leg is almost in contact with floor. Return to the original standing position by forcibly extending the hip and knee of the forward leg.
Lunges help to stabilise your core and strengthen your legs – which is the largest muscle group in your body, meaning it is also the best to train for fat-burning and weight-loss.
“Combine walking lunges with a deep push-up for a quick and easy total-body workout,” says Raleigh. The deep push-up will work your chest, shoulders, triceps, back and abs.
To execute this movement, kneel on a mat with your hands in front of you, slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Shifting your weight onto your arms, move your knees back to form a straight line from shoulders to knees, and cross your ankles.
With tight abs and your spine straight, bend your elbows and lower your chest towards the ground. Let it touch the ground briefly, then extend your arms all the way up into your starting position, without locking your elbows.
Yoga practitioner and owner of i.Yoga, Stamena Dimitrova, says her best anti-aging poses are the shoulder stand and a back bend like the bow. “The shoulder stand is a powerful all-round pose. Its main benefits are strengthening and balancing the functions of the thyroid, which oversees the functioning of the other glands, and it assists in controlling heart rate. A shoulder stand also aids in bringing fresh blood to the brain, the biggest consumer of oxygen in our system. This fresh, new blood rushes to the face, bringing with it nutrients and oxygen for a more refreshed complexion as well,” says Dimitrova.
A shoulder stand also gently stretches the spine for a more flexible and less injury-prone back. And it helps with lymph drainage, which eliminates toxins from the body – the cleaner the body, the less production of free-radicals, which lead to premature aging on a cellular level.
“The bow is also vital for keeping your spine flexible. This flexibility allows proper functioning of all major systems: central nervous, cardio, digestive and respiratory,” says Dimitrova.
The bow involves a complete back bend of the whole spine – from the neck down to the lumber region. “The aging process begins to show mostly when we neglect our spine and hips, allowing them to become rigid and fused,” says Dimitrova. The bow pose helps to hyper-contract the back and spine, opens the heart region, lungs and abdomen, and enhances the elasticity of the spine. It also massages and invigorates the internal organs, especially the digestive system.
A healthy digestive system is crucial for that youthful feel and look. Dimitrova points out that 90% of the production of serotonin in the body and 70% of the immune system happen in the digestive tract.
Yoga poses should be practised under supervision of a qualified yoga practitioner. Regular practice of the pose brings energy, vigour and youthful vitality.