In my last letter, I emphasized how incredibly powerful our thoughts are—and that includes our thoughts about aging. So how we feel, and whether we look and act sexy in our 60s and beyond, depends in large part on how we think about ourselves. If you feel good about yourself, you project an air of youthful confidence that everyone around you notices.
But let’s face it, thoughts alone are not enough…thoughts must also generate new activities that keep you vigorous. So here is the first (and perhaps the most important) action your thoughts must produce to keep you young. If you really want to look and feel youthful in your 60s and well beyond, you must be active—and the more active you are, the more energetic and lively your life will be.
I know, I know, you’ve heard it all before, and the last thing you want is another lecture on why you should exercise. Everyone knows that exercise is one of the best anti-aging and disease-fighting tools we have, and we all should be working out, regardless of age.
What I am going to share with you, though, is how to make exercise fun and motivating…because if you find something that you really love doing, you are more likely to do it regularly. And the more you move, the better you feel and look.
Channel Your Inner Child
I believe that as we get older, much of our exercise routines should be about channeling our inner child. I’m sure many of you feel like I do. I simply can’t believe I am almost 60 years old. The years went way too fast and I don’t feel my age. I still have many of the same thoughts as I did in my 20s. It’s like I’m a young man trapped in an older man’s body. But let me encourage you to break out of this “old person’s body” mindset. That’s why I believe as we age, we all have an inner child that still wants to come out and play instead of mindlessly walking or jogging on a treadmill. So let it come out and play!
Think back to what you loved to do when you were a kid. Maybe it was shooting hoops or tossing a football around. Or maybe it was taking ballet or jazz classes. Perhaps it was jumping rope or playing hopscotch with neighborhood friends. I encourage you to look back on those moments of unbridled joy and use them to find inspiration in creating fun workouts.
I personally think dancing is one of the best ways to bring fun into exercise, all while improving joint health, cardiovascular endurance, and even brain health. One study revealed that 76 percent of older adults who danced frequently exhibited fewer signs of dementia.1 In fact, dancing was a much better activity for cognitive health than answering crossword puzzles or reading. Brain plasticity is critical to keeping a young and flexible mind, and for reasons we don’t clearly understand, freestyle dancing appears to support brain plasticity more than any activity we have found.
I absolutely love to dance, especially to the soul music of the 1960s. I dance by myself when no one is watching every morning getting ready for my day, and I am the first on the dance floor when any live music starts. Even without the research telling me so, I deeply sense how dance connects my mind, body, and spirit to stay young. So dance! Even if you have two left feet, dance anyway!
When I’m not cutting a rug, I use my neighborhood as my “gym.” At some point every day, I speed walk the hills around my office. Every half mile or so, I stop to do pushups, bench dips, lunges, squats, planks, tricep dips, and other bodyweight exercises. All the while, I am getting fresh air, feeling the sunshine, smiling at the people I pass, and clearing my mind. It’s only about an hour, but it’s me-time that’s fun, and I cherish it.
Muscles are Sexy at Every Age
No matter what your age, nothing makes you look sexier or more youthful than toned, strong muscles.
While aerobic exercise reduces body fat and keeps your heart healthy, the only way to increase lean muscle mass is to engage in some form of strength or resistance training at least two or three days a week.
I know that the idea of building muscle can seem daunting, especially if you’re older and haven’t done it for a while—or ever. But you don’t need to lift heavy dumbbells or barbells, or figure out how to use intimidating machines at the gym…unless you want to. You can start with 3- or 5-lb. hand weights and move up from there. (Even unopened soup cans make great “beginner weights.”)
You can also build muscle the “old fashioned” way by doing bodyweight exercises, like I do. Resistance bands are a great option too. They allow you to keep constant tension, working the muscle harder (even though it may not feel like it at the time). And if you belong to a local Y or swim club, take swim aerobics classes. Water provides an excellent source of resistance for toning muscles.
Remember, my promise to you is that I will always provide you with accurate information, based on the latest science. I look forward to helping you live your best life in your 40s, 60s, 80s, and beyond!
Reference: Verghese J, et al. N Engl J Med. 2003 Jun 19;348(25):2508-16.