by Milka Gronlund, Ph.D., Fitness Director of Aliso Viejo Country Club
Some people feel that they are trapped in a body that they do not belong to. Maybe this was caused by an accident, trauma or maybe their bodyfat got out of control. There are many reasons why people do not have a positive body-mind connection. Ideally the body, mind and spirit would be all in harmony and one would feel at peace within themselves and the universe. This state can be very healthy and anti-aging for the body, spirit and the mind. One might feel more youthful as a result.
Some Components of a Youthful Body, Mind and Spirit
- Staying active and positively connected to the physical body and life- is good for health. Attending exercise classes, working with a trainer or exercising with a friend can help you stay focused on your exercise program, stay connected with people and connected to the body. This can promote youthful appearance, mindset and attitude.
- Bones- exercise “can help prevent bone loss” that is often considered an unavoidable part of aging. Weight bearing exercise; such as running, strength training or walking help increase bone density. Exercise also “allows us to maintain muscle strength, coordination, and balance, which in turn helps to prevent falls and related fractures” that often happen to older (National Institutes of Health).
- Heart- having a healthy heart is essential for an active lifestyle. The heart responds to diet and exercise. Heart health can be improved in many cases with proper diet and exercise. “Moderate exercise is one of the best things you can do to keep your heart and the rest of your body healthy” (Medline Plus).
- Hair, brain and skin- good circulation is important for the health of face, brain and hair. Exercise can help boost circulation, therefore aiding in the delivery of nutrients to the face, brain and hair. This can help keep the skin and hair healthier as one ages. Yoga poses can especially help increase circulation to the head, therefore promoting healthier hair growth, brain function and healthy skin, which are associated with youthfulness (Jaret, P).
- Posture often changes as people age. People tend to start rounding the back, neck and shoulders forward. As this trend continues, one might not be able to stand up straight anymore. There are many forms of exercise that promote good posture, strengthen the muscles that support good posture and proper position of the body. Some of the techniques include Pilates, yoga and ballet (Keane, S. p 8).
- Nutrition- good nutrition is essential for good mental and physical health. As we age, nutrition becomes very important, as people tend to recover from accidents, trauma and injuries slower than before and have less energy. Greater nutritional support is therefore needed. There are many diets available, and individual nutritional needs and preferences can vary greatly. According to a recent study, people who ate ample fruits, vegetables and fish reported less depression than those who ate meat, high-fat dairy products, sweets and junk food (the Mayo Clinic).
- Mental well-being- old age is often associated with lack of energy, decreased self-esteem, and depressed moods due to declining abilities and poor sleep. Exercise can improve mood, by lowering stress levels and making one happier and more relaxed. This can lead to better quality of sleep. Exercise can also help improve ones self-esteem due to positive changes in your body and mind. The quality of sleep can be improved with exercise. An optimal exercise program would include different types of exercise, such as stretching, strength training and cardiovascular exercise (Mayo Clinic).
- Learning and discovery– when we are young, we have a life ahead of us and we often dream about the future, learn and discover things. Dreaming, growing and looking forward to the future does not need to end by age 21. There can be many goals ahead at any age. Maybe one could learn to play a musical instrument, learn a new language, build a new home, travel, learn to play tennis, learn to knit, learn martial arts or learn how to bake. It is youthful for the mind to be in the state of learning and discovery.
- Hobbies- are good ways to spend down time and to de-stress. Some hobbies are more active and healthier than others are are. Some hobbies, such as crossword puzzles and sudoku are good for the brain and may help prevent age associated cognitive decline. Hobbies that include a form of exercise can help us stay fit and healthy. Biking, tennis, jogging, soccer and basketball are just a few sports that one might enjoy. They can also add a nice social component to leisure time. Having social support and good friends is healthy for the mind and the spirit.
- Flexibility- have you ever pulled a muscle as you are reaching for something? The more flexible one is, the better one is able to handle the demands that an active, joyful and youthful lifestyle brings. Yoga is a great form of exercise that helps one become more flexible and maintain flexibility for longer. Many forms of exercise have a stretching program that is a part of the regular practice. Martial arts as an example requires a great deal of flexibility, therefore stretching is an integral part of the practice.
- Coordination- refers to one combining “two to three movements as we go though the phases of learning” (p.8). Learning movement is highly beneficial for overall health and for the body-mind connection. There are many forms of exercise that have the component of learning movement. Some exercises that help with coordination are dancing, martial arts and gymnastics (Keane, S).
- Detoxification- of the body is important, because it allows the body to help clean toxic waste. Youthfulness is associated with clean and healthy body. Detoxification promotes this. Exercise that causes us to sweat can be especially helpful for detoxification of the body, along with healthy foods (Rose, S. p. 72).
Be sure to consult your doctor prior to beginning an exercise program. This is not intended to be a complete wellness, nutrition or exercise program. Work with a team of appropriate professionals for optimal results and for increased support in each specific area. Remember to listen to your body and be very sensitive to the needs of your body.
- Jaret, P. “Exercise for Healthy Skin“, from http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/acne/acne-care-11/exercise, retrieved 1/31/2012
- Keane, S. “Pilates for Core Strength”. PRC Publishing. London, United Kingdom. 2005
- Rose, S. “Detox- the Process of Cleansing and Restoration”. Parragon Publishing. Bath BA1 1HE, United Kingdom. 2004
- Mayo Clinic. www.mayoclinic.com, retrieved 1/17/12
- Medline Plus, http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/004006.htm retrieved 1/31/2012
- National Institutes of Health, “Exercise for your bone health”, http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Bone/Bone_Health/Exercise/default.asp retrieved 1/31/2011
- Perricone, N. The Perricone Promise. Warner Books. New York, New York. 2004
- WedMD, http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/aerobic-exercise/EP00002/NSECTIONGROUP=2 Retrieved 1/31/2012