So, your actual age is 31. Your mental age is 21 (your crush on Harry Styles sees to that). But what about your fitness age? Do you get puffed out running for the bus? Or can you run a marathon without breaking a sweat? In short, what is the internal state of your body?
Research is proving that how well our bodies function physically compared with how well they should function is a strong indication of how long we’ll live. In fact, a test has been developed by researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology to help you discover if your body is similar to that of a sprightly 20-year-old or a past-its-prime 50-year-old. The results are based on five measurements: your waist circumference, resting heart rate, frequency and intensity of exercise, age and gender. All of these factors combine to affect your VO2 max (how well your body delivers oxygen to your cells).
Whether you’re 16 or 60, personal trainer Joslyn Thompson Rule recommends you try these wondrous workouts.
Walking is so basic, and an extremely effective form of exercise. Not only is it weight-bearing, it also has a very positive mental effect, too. Taking time out to go for a walk, even for just 15 minutes a day, is beneficial for both body and mind.
Squatting is important for everyone, as you use it to get by in everyday life. Sitting down on a chair is a simple squat. At the most complex end, you can squat with a weighted barbell in a gym. To start squatting, practise sitting down then standing up from a chair, keeping your weight central. Try not to use your arms to assist you when you stand up and do this for two sets of 10 repetitions.
3. The yoga cobra pose
This pose is particularly beneficial if you spend a lot of time sitting down, as this can cause the muscles at the front of your body to tighten up. The cobra pose stretches the muscles on the front of the torso and strengthens the arms and shoulders. To nail it, lie face down and push your upper body off the floor, straightening your arms as much as is comfortable. Tilt your chin up and lift your chest toward the ceiling. A gentler form of this movement is resting on the elbows rather than on straight arms.
Lunging is a great way to ensure you stay strong through your hips and legs. While it requires balance, coordination and strength, even taking the stairs is a form of a lunge, just with less range of movement. So if a full lunge isn’t possible, take the stairs whenever you can: great for the muscles and the heart!
Swimming is a non-weight-bearing exercise that opens up your lungs and exercises our muscles in a gentle way. For experienced swimmers, the intensity can be taken up a notch by adding some intervals to your sessions, but for those who are less confident or less fit, gentle lap swimming is of great benefit.