From the Blog

Lifespan Training – Living Longer, Better and Healthier

How can we improve our chances of living longer with a high quality of life?  The number of years we live, our lifespan, is determined by how long one can avoid accidental death and how long one can delay the arrival of chronic disease.

Living healthy requires preserving three important elements of life for as long as possible.  These elements are:

  • Cognitive – memory, processing speed, and executive function
  • Physical – stability, flexibility, mobility, strength, muscle mass, bone density, cardiovascular endurance, cardiac output, pain free movements and sexual function
  • Emotional – sense of purpose, awareness, social support, fulfillment, and relationships

In order to live better we must attempt to maintain or improve as many of the subsets of the above elements as possible throughout our lives.  Our minds and our bodies are impacted by each other.  Any reduction in our emotional elements (mind) or physical (body) can lead to some cognitive decline.   

Sustaining the physical element is my expertise:  I believe that if a person enters his or her seventh decade without maintaining physical wellbeing, it becomes more and more difficult to live a longer, better, and healthier life.

If you regularly read my blogs you will know the importance I place on consistent cardiovascular exercise and performing a wide range of exercises to stimulate as many muscles throughout your body as possible.   I will focus here on the physical element, describing how to structure our workouts in order to improve our odds of living longer, healthier, and better.

The first component our workouts need to address is body control and stability using exercises such as planks, squat holds, multidirectional low-intensity movements, and balance.  

The second component of exercise our workouts must address is muscular strength using resistance exercises which load our system beyond our body weight.  We must stress and challenge our muscular system so it can withstand higher stresses than it normally has to.  A typical 25-year-old body can withstand greater stresses than a typical 80-year-old body.  Each body must be exercised by increasing the load appropriate to what it can currently safely withstand.  Overstressing the muscular system can lead to joint and tendon injuries.

The third component is aerobic efficiency.  Aerobic efficiency is the how much cardiac output you can perform while staying in the aerobic state.  Without getting into the biology, it is the ability to move continuously at the highest intensity possible without having to stop and rest.  For example, riding a bike for a very long time at a fast rate without having to slow down.

The final component is peak anaerobic output, exercising at levels at which you cannot sustain the intensity for more than 10-20 seconds.  Examples include sprint work or interval training.

Incorporating these four components into your exercise regimen will help you maintain the physical side of improving your lifespan.  Working with a personal trainer is a great way to ensure that you will implement these four types of exercise into your fitness program.