Two Fitness Tips To Promote Longevity, From An Exercise Physiologist
Exercising can have powerful impacts on brain health and memory function, which can help prevent age-related neurodegenerative disorders. While prioritizing any type of physical activity can go a long way, exercise physiologist Ben Greenfield recommends two specific exercise tips to help promote longevity:
Engage your fast-twitch muscles.
The fast-twitch muscles are involved in activities like sprinting, jumping, or strength training. In a mindbodygreen podcast episode, Greenfield says, "It turns out that the fast-twitch powerful, explosive muscles are more favorable for overall longevity."
This doesn't necessarily mean you have to engage in powerlifting or speed races. "You can do very short, powerful, quick, explosive exercises with bodyweight only," he explains. These exercises are commonly referred to as high-intensity interval training (HIIT) routines.
Change up your workouts.
Greenfield recommends alternating these fast-twitch exercises with slow-twitch exercises throughout the week. The slow exercises can include long-distance jogging, walking, swimming, or lifting light weights.
On the HIIT days, he recommends doing 7- to 10-minute exercises, where you're moving very quickly and explosively, for 30 seconds on and 15 seconds off. Example moves include plyometrics, lunges, explosive pushups, etc. Here are a few HIIT workout routines for extra guidance.
Research has shown combing both types of exercise (and working out for at least 150 minutes each week) is the best way to support longevity. Endurance exercises, including HIIT programs, promote healthy aging by strengthening cardiorespiratory fitness. Strength training, even with light weights, can slow the loss of muscle mass, which naturally occurs in the aging process.
Activating fast-twitch muscles through HIIT workouts and incorporating light strength training helps keep the body physically and mentally fit, which can help promote healthy aging and, ultimately, longevity.
Abby Moore is an editorial operations manager at mindbodygreen. She earned a B.A. in Journalism from The University of Texas at Austin and has previously written for Tribeza magazine. She has covered topics ranging from regenerative agriculture to celebrity entrepreneurship. Moore worked on the copywriting and marketing team at Siete Family Foods before moving to New York.