Updated: Oct 12
Turning 60 this year has been a slightly surreal experience. As a child, someone of “that age” would be considered to be “old”, taking things easy and waiting for a life of retirement. These days, better nutrition, awareness of health and diet, good medical interventions mean that retirement happens now closer to 70, and I am one of millions still living and working the same as I was in my 30’s – albeit with a slightly slower and less bouncy pace…
So, how do we manage to slow down the ageing process and increase a vibrant longevity?
You probably know the answer lies in exercise and diet, but here are the top 5 things that you can do to stave off getting old before your time…
We now know that there is a strong connection between our gut and our brain – and this can be linked to a “gut feeling” which is a reaction without logic to a situation, or it can be what is known as the “gut-brain axis”. This is a two-way interactive system between our central nervous system and the gut – and more importantly, the gut microbiota, which plays a crucial role in our health. When I first found out about this, I was a bit blown away by how bacteria in the gut can affect our health, but the more I read about it, the more open I am to this idea.
In 2020, Ding, et.al looked at the complex network and close working of the gut-liver-brain axis. In particular, they examined irritable bowel, Bloated stomach, heartburn, and liver disease. What they discovered was that the interaction between the gut, the brain, and the liver and how it regulates the occurrence and development of diseases – such as depression, autism, anxiety, obesity, diabetes, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s. This means we can look to our diet to act in a preventative way and protect or reduce the risk of disease which we know can shorten life. When we have a reduced gut microbiota diversity this affects our immune system and the “barriers” that the body has to protect itself, that can lead to chronic diseases, abnormal immune responses – and help us to manage obesity.
To help protect your body by nurturing your gut, think about including the following in your weekly routine.
Increase your daily soluble and insoluble fibre – think about oats, fruit, veg, seeds and nuts
Try to ingest some fermented foods that include the microbiota, such as kefir, kimchi, sauerkraut, yogurt etc
Increase your prebiotics and probiotics in your diet especially if you have been taking antibiotics.
As you can buy these over the counter, and they are not regulated as “food” - beware that what you might be taking may not include the live biomes.
Prebiotics are included in garlic, onions, artichokes, dark green veg and bananas. Probiotics are included in the fermented food above.
Bounce for your bones
Bone mass reduces naturally as we get older, and is affected by our lifestyle, diet, and genetics. Osteoporosis and related fractures cause significant morbidity and mortality . I have written about this in other blogs, so check them out, or come along to my “Bone Health” day on the 29th October. In the meantime, here are some practical things that you can do to help keep bones young.
Bounding or jumping or loading of the bone can help improve bone density. Think about some impact exercises that you can gradually increase into your weekly activity – start slowly, and build up.
Increase your Vit D with daily exposure to sunlight – 10 mins on a sunny day, and more than 30 mins on a cloudy one. You absorb this through your skin, so short sleeves if you can, and shorts help!
You can also increase your Vit D through diet by including oily fish, red meat, eggs, some mushrooms, or almond milk etc.
You can take a supplement if you wish during the winter months.
Calcium is also great, and there are ways of taking it that don’t involve dairy, such as seeds (chia, poppy, sesame, which also include other great minerals) sardines and canned salmon, beans, especially white beans such as butter beans on cannellini beans, alongside dairy such as cheese, yogurt, or whey protein.
There are lots of examples to chose from. The key is to have regular and variety intake alongside the Vit D which helps absorption.
Make movement your mission
Physical activity is linked to improving both physical and mental health – there is no denying this fact and there is a list as long as to the moon and back with evidence to prove the value of moving.
Here are some practical tips to get this into your life:
Get up and get out first thing. Doesn’t have to be long, but a morning walk boost your immune system, reduces depression, helps to control your appetite and many other health benefits. Try not to wait for the motivation to do this, but see it as essential as brushing your teeth
Outdoors gives us additional boosters to our health, and 3-4 times walk in the countryside for around 30mins or more will keep your body healthy.
Include your movement with some specific training for the core, balance, and strength. I recommend going to a trained person for this – whether in a group or one to one, so that you are guided with effective instruction to maximise your workout.
A walk after your evening meal will aid digestion and supports your gut health.
Find your happy place
Key to living a healthy age is to reduce the stress in your life.
My tip is to carve out a space – inside or outside your house – where you can sit still for at least 10mins each day and take a breath. Literally, take deep breaths. Clear your mind. Close your eyes. Think. Stay off your phone. Listen. Let your body be quiet. Better to do this at some point than save it all up for a 2-week holiday.
Like all things – work, housework, car maintenance, haircuts, mowing the lawn. Little and often is the best strategy. It is fundamental to many areas of our lives, and we only need to apply this logic to ourselves too.
Each meal, include some of the food stuffs.
Each day, do a bit of movement.
Find 10mins to sit.
Find 30 mins 3 times a week to get out of breath or lift some weights.
Plan your week.
Plan your month.
Plan your year.
Don’t wait for some “magic” intervention – it is up to you, and you are alone.
How the ageing process affects your fitness? You affect it. Yes, bone mass will reduce, yes, muscle mass will reduce, yes, eyesight will diminish, yes, hearing loss is to be expected. But your impact is the major force on the speed at which it affects your fitness. You have the power to be able to input time and energy into your body that will slow these processes down, improve your lifespan, improve the quality of your life. You may get affected by illness, injury, or disease – and your recovery can be influenced by you too. Be brave and make the small choices. If people can give up smoking because we know its impact on health, then this is a shining example of how humans have the ability to make a choice to improve their health – this could inspire you to think about how people went about giving up smoking? What did they do? How long did it take? And what stopped them going back? Be inspired. Be inspirational. Be you x
Join in in some live and online workshops that examine ways to improve your health and wellbeing through exercise:
9th October - Pilates Workshop - live and in person at Borth
This all day event is open to class members and fitness instructors alike
23rd October - Menopause and Exercise for Fitness Professionals - Online
This one day workshop looks at the effect of Menopause on women's health and how to adapt your planned workouts for your clients and class members.
The day covers the health impact of the menopause and investigates the methods and interventions to help reduce the acute symptoms and provide long term health benefits
20th November - Back Care Basics - live and in person at Borth
Many GP's and Physio's recommend exercise to improve chronic lower back pain. This workshop looks at how to introduce evidence based movement to help long term back pain.
This day is suitable for class members and fitness instructors wanting to increase their knowledge and application of how to help chronic lower back pain.
 Jian-Hong Ding, Zhe Jin, Xiao-Xu Yang, Jun Lou, Wei-Xi Shan, Yan-Xia Hu, Qian Du, Qiu-Shi Liao, Rui Xie, and Jing-Yu Xu - Role of gut microbiota via the gut-liver-brain axis in digestive diseases - World J Gastroenterol . 2020 Oct 28;26(40):6141-6162.  Ley, R., Turnbaugh, P., Klein, S. et al. Human gut microbes associated with obesity. Nature 444, 1022–1023 (2006). https://doi.org/10.1038/4441022a  Carter MI, Hinton PS. Physical activity and bone health. Mo Med. 2014;111(1):59–64. - PMC - PubMed  S Cheng, S Sipilä, D.R Taaffe, J Puolakka, H Suominen, Change in bone mass distribution induced by hormone replacement therapy and high-impact physical exercise in post-menopausal women, Bone, Volume 31, Issue 1, 2002, Pages 126-135,