At some point in your life, longevity and quality of life will be your most important goal. There is a common perception that we are living longer lifespans than ever before, but in fact life expectancy rates are actually decreasing in much of the world, and those trends are likely to worsen. With all our modern technology, science, information and freedom, you would think we should be living longer, and healthier than ever before. The sad truth is that chronic lifestyle based diseases are on the rise due to poor nutrition, stress, lack of movement, toxicity, circadian disruption and more. If you look around you, unfortunately not many people are thriving at their current age, and those that train and move regularly are in the minority of the population. Longevity and vitality are key goals for most people training over the age of 30 because at the end of the day, who cares how long you live, if you can't enjoy your life!
Beyond Fitness - Vitality & Longevity
In the last 5 years, there is a growing focus in the fitness industry towards wellness, rather than purely fitness. While of course there are still hard-core advocates for the ‘no pain, no gain’ approach to going hard or going home, the reality is that not many people who enter a gym these days need or enjoy that approach. You can read more here about how and why less is more, when it comes to fitness training.
When we first opened our studio doors, we had a hard time convincing some members of the need to listen to their body, recover, or pay active attention to drills like ground to standing, foam rolling, breath work or mobilisers. Almost 6 years down the track, we find that our members are only too happy to honour their daily readiness to train, and appreciate the value of movement preparation, and recovery, not just goal based fitness training.
Why train for longevity?
We all want to live our best lives, and feel great for as long as possible. There is nothing more important in old age than quality of life, independence, and the ability to look after yourself. Centered at the root of all of that, is your ability to move. If you don’t move often, and intelligently, the whole system suffers. Movement is anti-inflammatory, hydrating and energizing. It creates resilient tissues, hydrates, efficient mitochondria and cellular function, and is vital for the brain, mood and self confidence.
Signs you need to switch up your training and focus on wellness and longevity:
Chronic stiffness & pain
Lack of mobility and strength in varied positions
Lack of heart rate variability (HR stays high, won’t go up, or takes longer to recover!)
Can’t get down to the ground and up again with ease
Coordination and balance challenges
Are you struggling with complex movement sequences?
Fitness Doesn’t Equate to Longevity
Being super fit and punishing yourself at the gym doesn’t equate to longevity. In fact it can do the opposite. Over training, under recovering, repetitive movement, too much muscle mass, and chronic cardio, are all examples of how movement can hurt you. Looking fit, or being good at a particular sport doesn't necessarily provide you longevity. Many people have the perception that marathon runners, cyclists, body builders, yogi's or aerobic instructors are super fit, but from our perspective, this tends not to be the case. Many of these 'fit' people spend all of their time doing that specific activity, and neglect other aspects of training at a cost to their system. In other words they have specific fitness, but not necessarily the ability to cross train in different modalities. See 4Q Movement Quality chart for a breakdown of different movements our bodies need, and also a 4Q Metabolic chart for different approaches to intensity.
When it comes to longevity, they key component in training is variability. This means being strong and resilient for whatever comes your way. It means you can go fast, or slow, lift heavy, or light, move and adapt to awkward and challenge angles, etc. Variability means your tissues have the strength, tension and elasticity to respond to different speeds, loads, positions and vectors. Variability means your heart rate can work high and cope, or maintain a lower intensity heart rate without sky rocketing, most importantly it means you can recover! For longevity we need a blend of approaches to provide us with resilience.
Movement prevents disease - Don’t take it for granted
Movement and fitness training are not the same. Training for movement means using your whole body, and sharing the load through the entire system as we were designed. Movement training more closely resembles and impacts how we move through our daily life. Yes it's important to be strong and able to lift heavy, or to train one muscle group in isolation, but we would argue it's equally, or even more important to be able to get down to the floor and play with children, or to bend over safely and pick up something that rolls under the couch.
When load is shared through the whole body, we become more efficient, more flexible, have better posture and are stronger! Read more detail about this in our blog Don't Activate - Integrate. Movement training leads to resilience, weight loss and improved vitality, and complements traditional fitness training. If you are not already practicing movement training - get cracking!
Movement training means also non structured physical activity, to get moving more often. A lack of daily movement is detrimental to the body, and our sedentary lifestyle pulls us away from optimal health. Finding ways to increase daily movement will rapidly improve systemic health.
Daily movement is crucial for your health is so many ways
Circulation of bodily fluids, blood, water and lymph
Movement assists digestion and elimination
Movement increases bone, muscle & connective tissue strength, resilience & function
Movement improves brain health and function, mood and emotional state.
Movement optimises hormone balance
What does training for longevity look like
Training for longevity should be enjoyable, and sustainable with a key focus of improving quality of movement and tissue, rather than quantity, intensity and volume of training.
Varied - As we have touched on above, training for vitality and longevity MUST be varied. It should include different training aspects like foam rolling, mobilisers, goal based movement, movement training, low intensity 'cardio style training' as well as high intensity and strength training.
Ground to standing drills - Being able to get down to the ground and up again is an important predictor of all cause mortality. Practice doing so in a range of ways, any way you can, or with more structured drills. The more you practice ground to standing drills, the more energy, flexibility, strength and efficiency you will have.
Sensitivity Training - means training your system to know when to switch on and load, and when to switch off. It's the opposite of a plank drill! It involves pre-tensioning the whole body in a position, and then relaxing. This unregulated nervous system and fascial tissue adaptability. If this is new to you, find someone who knows about 'warding patern drills' or check out our online movement program 'Move It Or Lose It'
Movement based training - Train your body to move as a system both with, and without load. Use whole body movements, and train in all directions.
Muscle & Bone mass - Traditional strength training, and weight lifting is key for maintaining muscle and bone mass is crucial for healthy aging.
Active Recovery - As we age, we need even more recovery to combat the stresses of a workout, and life. We need more than sleep for adequate recovery. Active recovery drills like foam rolling, mobility drills, a slow walk, or breath work to regulate the nervous system are important considerations for active recovery.
Brain training - Obviously brain health is vital to staying healthy for longer. You can enhance brain training with reactive drills (moving to varying a called out target), game play, complex movement drills, or just novel drills that stimulate the brain.
Honour Your Readiness to train - Listen to your body and train according to how you feel every single day for better, long term results.
Movement improves many health problems, yet it’s the first thing people stop when life gets too busy, or they feel unwell. There is no such thing as old age. You either move it, or you lose it! So if your longevity matters to you, get cracking, Any movement is good movement!