If you haven’t heard the new term “super-agers” yet, you’re sure to be as fascinated as we are. These fabulous folks are at least 70 years old, but have the mental or physical abilities of people decades younger. Naturally, we’re on a mission to find out their secret, and one of them has to do with how they exercise. Hello, cardio!
One thing that defines a super-ager, according to Harvard Medical School, is their excellent aerobic capacity, or the amount of oxygen they can take in and distribute to their body tissues in one minute. Average people lose about 10 percent of their aerobic capacity every decade after the age of 30. But don’t get discouraged, it is possible to boost your own with exercise — even if you’re new to working out. The key is choosing a workout that gets your heart rate up, such as jogging, swimming, or something more fun, like tap dancing.
The intensity, duration, and frequency of your workout is important when trying to increase your aerobic capacity. While an “intense” workout might mean different things to different people, a good rule of thumb is to get as close as you can to achieving your maximum heart rate. To find your max: Simply subtract your age from 220. If you’re new to exercise, try to get your pulse to a rate of 50 percent of your max. From there, slowly work yourself up to 60 percent, and then try to sustain it at 70 percent.
To track your heart rate as you exercise, you can use a wristband monitor like the one from Polar ($55, Amazon) or an activity tracker watch like the one from LETSCOM ($29.98, Amazon). Alternatively, certain types of exercise equipment, like treadmills or ellipticals, include heart-rate tracking.
So, how long and how often should you repeat your exercise? Experts recommend working out to your best intensity level for 20 to 40 minutes per day, three to five days per week.
Of course, it’s worth keeping in mind that scientists are still studying the many different factors that make someone a super-ager. For instance, some experts have suggested that optimistic people may age better. Others have said that folks with a deep social network might have an advantage. So, while staying active is certainly one piece of the healthy-aging puzzle, it’s definitely not the only thing that matters in the long run.
Remember: Always talk to your doctor before starting any new workout regimen, especially an intense one.
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