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Wellbeing dimensions: Movement

Ageing is a complex physiological process influenced by many factors, some of which are modifiable. It is important to develop anti-ageing strategies that can easily be implemented into our day to day lives. In addition to a healthy diet and mental wellbeing, it is proven that regular exercise can contribute to the prevention of chronic diseases, and to the management of the ageing process. At PAAR, based on genetic testing and postural alignment assessment, we can prepare a personalised movement plan that brings the most benefit to you.

With the benefits of modern lifestyle, we started using elevators instead of stairs, drive instead of walking, using machines to clean our dishes and clothes. This adaptation made sedentary lifestyle more common for humans who were originally evolved to walk, run, hunt and use a variety of muscle groups. Even though we live longer than our ancestors, as a result of this mostly sedentary lifestyle we have higher risk of developing chronic diseases and comorbidities. Technological advancements and modern medicine allow us to test and detect predisposition to diseases and therefore adapt our lifestyle in order to prevent them.

How can movement contribute to longevity?

Several studies across many different populations have repeatedly shown a strong link between higher physical activity and lower mortality risk along with reduced risk of chronic conditions. Regular exercise has a number of health benefits. These include an optimal weight, healthy bones, muscles and joints, psychological wellbeing, and a lower risk of certain types of cancer and heart disease.

Physical activity can fire up the repair mechanisms of the body. Metabolism is elevated for a few hours after exercise, which can support brain health and the production of proteins, can improve blood supply and can help reducing free radicals. All of which can slow down the ageing process and can reduce our vulnerability to a wide range of diseases. During physical activity the human body produces more immune cells and up-regulate its ability to generate antibodies. Numerous studies have shown that regular physical activity could reduce the risk of some cancer types, such as breast and colon cancer, as well as metabolic diseases and Alzheimer’s. It has also been shown that if patients with primary tumours exercise more often and improve their diets the relapse risk of cancer can decrease.

Inflammation is one of the main reasons behind ageing and chronic diseases. Movement can help your body reduce inflammation. How is that possible? When you start exercising and moving your muscles you put your body through a stressful activity. As a respond to that your muscle cells release a small protein called Interleukin 6, or IL-6, which appears to play an important role in fighting inflammation. For example after a 30-minute workout IL-6 levels may increase fivefold, but after a marathon, the levels may increase by a factor of 100. Abdominal fat itself is thought to promote inflammation, therefore reducing abdominal fat levels via exercise is another way we can reduce inflammation. When inflammation is present in the body exercise should be used as a part of the treatment for chronic diseases.

It is important to have a variety in your exercise regime, as stressing different muscle groups gives you different benefits. Aerobic exercise stimulates your circulatory system, strengthens your heart, leads to produce more capillaries and blood vessels, and decreases blood pressure and cholesterol. Strength training could protect and increase your muscle mass along with improving memory and attention span. A number of studies have shown that strength training, also known as resistance training, could help with managing chronic diseases, boosting energy levels and protecting the cardiovascular system. After the age of 30, we start losing muscle mass. Slowing or reversing this process is important because our lean muscle mass is one of the strongest determinants of wellbeing as we age, including our brain function and blood sugar levels.

Regular movement remodels the structure of our brain. Studies have shown that physical activity increases levels of BDNF (Brain-derived neurotrophic factor), a powerful compound helping your nerve cells grow. Physical activity has tremendous effects on the mental health. The brain can learn how to be resilient to stress and more sensitive to joy. Exercise enhances the production of neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin that make us feel awarded and combat depression and anxiety. Movement also stimulates the production of many other brain chemicals that give you energy, reduce inflammation and help you bond with others. Studies have shown that people who move for a short period of time, e.g. walk for 5-10 minutes, prior to brainstorming about new, creative ideas generate on average twice as many compared to those who remained seated.

It is well established that physical activity is beneficial for cardiovascular health. Regular exercise lowers resting heart rate, strengthens heart muscles, and balances blood pressure and lipid levels. Repeated physical activity suppresses atherogenesis, the process of forming lipid plaques in the vessels, a major risk factor for cardiovascular diseases. In addition, it increases the availability of vasodilatory mediators such as nitric oxide, which again is linked to reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases. It is found that people who jog for only a few minutes each day are less likely to develop heart disease.

How we respond to exercise is influenced by our genetics. Variations in our genetic profile can help explain why some people see a better response to different types of exercise. Following a genetically-guided exercise program has shown up to three-fold improvements in training compared to genetically mismatched training. Because of this we include genetic testing for fitness traits in our most comprehensive PAAR programmes. We combine results of these tests with your postural alignment assessment and recommend a personalised fitness programme.

We aim for achievable and enjoyable goals because consistency is key to develop healthy habits and to reach your highest potential. We would like you to keep moving joyfully up to your hundredth birthday and beyond! We encourage you to pick activities that you enjoy the most and can easily implement into your daily schedule. High-paced walking for an hour every day could be your starting point. Blue zones research highlights that the key to get the most benefit from your exercise is to work all your body parts with rigor which means moving to the point of breathing rapidly or sweating.

Unless you have a medical condition and/or your doctor advises you against it, recent guidelines recommend 150 to 300 minutes per week of moderate aerobic activity (walking, running, swimming, biking), or 75 minutes of vigorous activity, or a mix of both. Twice-weekly resistance training to strengthen muscles is also suggested. Vigorous exercise in particular, just 20-30 minutes per week, can do great things for your heart health. Vigorous activity means that during exercise you can only say a few words without having to stop for breath. While during moderate activity you could talk or even sing. Of course with vigorous exercise we must know our limits. Be aware of the signs that your body sends and do not push yourself too far. It’s important to exercise, but not to ‘over-exercise’. Over-exercising can cause damage to the knees, hips and other joints, especially if you continue despite feeling pain. On the other hand certain movement routines along with a diet rich in fresh, organic vegetables could support the repair and regeneration of tissue.

There is a place to start for everyone, regardless of age or current fitness level.

  • First, think safety. Walking and other low levels of exercise are generally safe for most people. Do check with your doctor before starting or making changes to an exercise routine if you have a history of heart disease or any other medical condition that might impact your exercise tolerance.

  • Start small. You’ll be more successful if you set the bar low first. For example start with a simple routine of walking 10 to 20 minutes three times per week. Every week or two, add five minutes per walk until you reach a goal of 30 minutes. Then every week or two add an extra day of movement until you reach at least 150 minutes per week. Over time you can try increasing intensity. Remember, small goals are more achievable, and these little victories will continue to fuel your motivation.

  • Plan ahead. To maximise your success in adopting a long-term lifestyle change plan in advance. Every week, look at your calendar ahead of time and commit to when you will exercise that week. Think of the time you allocated for movement as an appointment rather than “I’ll get to it if I have time.”

  • Expect to lose some battles. Keep in mind that realistically most people will get derailed at some point as they work on a behavioural change. Do not let this dampen your motivation. Instead identify obstacles that may have interfered and strategize a solution moving forward.

Would you like to revolutionise your movement routine and improve your posture to reach your full potential?

Check out our Genetic testing for nutrition and fitness traits. This test mainly focuses on your genetic risk factors and the genetic influence that affect your nutrition and fitness performance. Following the assessment you will have a consultation with our expert who will synthetize your current lifestyle habits with your genetic traits and give you guidance on how to tailor your nutrition and training. Get in touch to find out more.


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