Aging is a Choice – Part 3
Simple, yet effective external practices can make you feel younger, every day.
Last month, we discussed internal practices that help mitigate the aging process. This time we’ll explore a few simple, yet effective external, physical practices that work for me. I hope you will consider them if, like me, you want to feel younger every day.
The benefits of this essential part of our lives are numerous. Burning calories? Lowering your blood sugar? Enhancing your mood? Boosting your energy? Increasing your heart health? Bolstering your immunity, while adding quality years to your life? Walking is the simplest, and most practical form of exercise there is. It gets you from one place to another, and it’s free to boot. The key is choosing to walk whenever you have the option, versus driving your car or taking mass transit. By the way, that includes taking the stairs whenever possible, instead of riding the escalator.
As a long-time New Yorker, I learned that the best way to navigate the city neighborhoods was on foot. I spent three decades exploring the city by walking, and as a result, stayed in shape while learning more about Manhattan than I would have if I had opted for the subway, bus, cab, or car. By walking, I learned the varied landscape and vibe of this great city while potentially adding years to my life via the millions of steps I took traversing the canyons of New York.
BODY WEIGHT EXERCISES
Right through my forties, I invested a lot of time running and working out at the gym. After my third marathon at age fifty, I could tell my body was changing. I had trained for this big race like a demon and thought I was in the best shape of my life. However, life threw me a curve ball and I encountered multiple issues along the 26-mile course, including bonking midrace due to low blood sugar. Somehow, I finished the race, but my body told me in no uncertain terms that this would be my final marathon, at least for the foreseeable future.
Over the ensuing years, I eased back on the heavy weights at the gym, shortened my runs, and began focusing more on exercises that did not place so much stress on my skeletal system and joints. I replaced these with floor exercises, swimming, body boarding, push-ups, qi gong, stretching, and more. In retrospect, this has been a wise decision. I now favor consistency versus undue stress and have never felt better.
We’ve all read about the new trend of jumping into freezing water from the banks of a river for a few minutes that feel like an eternity. That’s impressive, but not necessary. All you need to do to gain the benefits of a cold-water submersion is just three minutes under a cold shower at home. At the end of your shower, turn the knob all the way to cold and either start counting or get a timer set for three minutes.
The benefits of this regular practice include bolstering your immunity, protection from circulating viruses, improved circulation, increased metabolism (which means weight loss), and enhancing your mood. All it takes is three minutes under the nozzle of a cold shower. It may take a little while to work your way up to three minutes, but that’s okay. Afterwards you can turn the water back to a warmer temperature before exiting the shower stall. Once again, consistency is the key to success. The more you do it, the better the results. Enjoy!
Studies show that over 80% of Americans suffer from dehydration. And guess what? Dehydration means aging. Because our bodies are made up of more than two thirds water, over time if left unreplenished, the human body can quickly dry out. This is why so many older people have wrinkles. A key factor in this has to do with hydration.
Although studies vary in terms of how much water we should be drinking each day, the adage of drinking at least eight glasses or 64 ounces of water a day is a good starting point. Over time, drink what feels right for you, but make sure you drink at least those eight big glasses per day.
I prefer consuming alkaline or purified water. Depending on where you live, too much tap water has many chemicals and often is not fit for consumption straight from the tap. The benefits of drinking lots of good, clean water? Water keeps us alive and when you are hydrated you will feel the difference. Drink enough water each day so you’re not constantly thirsty.
Yes, squatting. I’m referring to holding a deep squatting position and holding the position without any added weight, with the bottoms of your feet flat on the ground. The benefits of holding the squat for a minute or three, include better mobility, gastrointestinal health, deep hip muscle strength, full body integration, flexibility, and mobility.
Believe it or not, once you get started and maintain a consistent practice, squatting becomes relatively easy. All you need to do is stand up straight with your feet planted flat and lower yourself with the soles of your feet flat against the ground. If your heels don’t touch the ground initially, slide a rolled or folded towel under your heels. Keep at it, and you will gain more flexibility, and you won’t need the towel anymore.
While squatting, do your best to straighten your back, and hold your position. You may struggle to squat for even half a minute at first, but over time and with consistency, you’ll settle into the squatting position for minutes at a time. I’ve found this practice keeps me supple, and regular. It costs nothing except for a few minutes each day.
The more I focus my intention on finding practices that help me feel young, the more I find these practices to come my way.
So, keep an open mind, find the modalities that work for you. Get started. Stay positive. And have fun staying young. After all, it’s one of the best choices you will ever make. Good luck!