⭑ Age is more than a number ✔ Here's how to unlock the power of aging
⭑ Eating sweets after dinner is habit-forming ✔ you can break out of it
⭑ Healthy aging: the impact of diet, exercise, and moderation ✔ measured
⭑ Harnessing the power of eccentric movements ✔ strength
All strength to Ukraine 🇺🇦🇺🇦🇺🇦🇺🇦🇺🇦🇺🇦🇺🇦🇺🇦
But it's not an excuse to be bound by stereotypes. I believe in being as bold as you can physically while ensuring that your number one goal is not to injure yourself. Enthusiasm helps, as we touch on in today's newsletter.
Addictions, hormones and habits drive us to eat after dinner, especially sweets. As we get older, the calories add up. Here's how to get back on track - see item #2.
Sometimes we are captive to stereotypes and age-based beliefs. But to break through, we need more than the thought that "age is just a number" - see item #1.
01 How Decoding Your Age Beliefs Can Extend Your life
Are you enthusiastic about getting older?
A study involving 660 people over several decades found that those with an optimistic view of aging lived an impressive seven and a half years longer than their less positive counterparts.
While believing that "age is just a number" is a start, it also takes action. In other words, attitude is necessary, but more is needed.
However, the great thing about maintaining a positive outlook is that it keeps you wanting to move and to stay connected.
Positive age beliefs are linked to lower blood pressure, general longevity, and a lower risk of dementia - because people with positive beliefs can brush off the stereotypical view of aging.
It's easy to identify with the stereotypes, and to fall back the "average', especially if you've had a setback with health or injury. For me, every time I twist my ankle or hurt my knee, my fears come to the fore.
However, I take a step back and remind myself that such fears are natural, which helps me regain my enthusiasm and move forward. Ultimately, this means that setbacks do not define us.
What this means for you: Here are some actionable steps to help keep up your enthusiasm:
- Embrace positive age beliefs: Start by changing your perspective on aging. Remember that it's a natural process that everyone goes through. Start by noticing where your age beliefs come from and how you have let them define you. It might be time for a change.
- Identify your stereotypes: Keep a journal of the age-related stereotypes you encounter in movies, social media, or conversations and analyse them critically.
- Find aging role models: Look for older individuals who inspire you in some way and learn from their experiences.
- Challenge your fears: Reflect on your worries about getting older and consider their validity. Explore options that diminish your concerns.
⇒ Identifying positive role models can significantly influence your perception of aging. Remember, you can strengthen your age beliefs at any age.
02 Crave Ice Cream After Dinner? Here's How To Stop
Have you ever wondered why you often crave sweets, such as ice cream or chocolate, after eating dinner? This occurs due to various factors, two of which play a key role.
Firstly, consuming a savory meal stimulates the release of certain brain chemicals that can trigger cravings for high-sugar foods. In other words, less variety in your main course triggers a desire to eat something extra, and different. Often sweet.
Secondly, sugar becomes addictive. In one study, animals with repeated, intermittent access to a sugar solution developed behaviours and brain changes similar to the effects of some drugs of abuse.
Fourthly, there's also the role of habits and learned behaviours.
If you regularly indulge in sweet treats after dinner, your brain has likely formed a strong connection between the two. This habit can become so ingrained that reaching for dessert after finishing your main meal feels automatic.
Finally, emotions can significantly influence our food choices and cravings. Stress, boredom, or even a desire for comfort can lead to cravings for sweets after dinner.
By recognising and addressing the emotional triggers that drive these cravings, we can seek healthier alternatives to satisfy our emotional needs.
What does this mean for you? By recognising and addressing the five triggers above that drive these cravings, you can set up alternative paths:
- Choose balanced meals encompassing a broad variety of flavours, textures, and aromas. Experiment with flavours: Use various herbs, spices, and seasonings to enhance the variety of tastes in your dishes.
- Appease your sweet tooth with naturally sweet foods such as fruits, or desserts prepared with natural sweeteners like stevia or monk fruit.
- If a post-dinner snack is a habit, try satisfying your cravings with fresh fruits, yogurt, or a small serving of dark chocolate.
- Manage stress: Seek non-food methods to cope with emotions, such as practising mindfulness, exercising, or engaging in hobbies.
- Get adequate sleep: Insufficient sleep can disrupt hormonal balance, increasing cravings. Strive for 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night.
- Stay hydrated: Consuming enough water during the day can help mitigate cravings and maintain a feeling of satiation.
Related (older blog posts of mine): Stress, And How To Break The Cycle Of Poor Food Choices
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03 Impact of Healthy Habits on Longevity: An Australian Study
Recent research involving 11,340 Australian participants aged 70 and above found that following healthy lifestyle guidelines can significantly lower the risk of all-cause and cause-specific mortality.
The study investigated the impact of four lifestyle factors - (1) diet, (2) physical activity, (3) smoking, and (4) alcohol consumption.
The results? Those who adhered to public health guidelines enjoyed lower mortality rates.
Specifically, those in the moderate and favourable lifestyle groups had a 27% and 32% lower risk of all-cause mortality compared to those in the unfavourable lifestyle group.
So healthy living not only adds years to your life but life to your years!
⇒ Interestingly, the study found no association between lifestyle and cancer-related mortality.
Diet and Exercise: Twin Pillars of Health
A healthy diet and regular physical activity were two key factors contributing to longevity. Participants who engaged in moderate or vigorous activity were categorised higher on the lifestyle scorecard. Similarly, those who consumed at least four out of seven recommended food groups also scored higher points.
Alcohol and Smoking: Moderation Matters
⇒ The study found that moderate alcohol consumption was associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular diseases and all-cause mortality.
As for smoking, current smokers were categorised as lower on the lifestyle scorecard than non-smokers or former smokers.
What this means for you: Adopting healthier lifestyle choices can profoundly affect your enjoyment of life. Here are some practical steps you can take:
Stay Active: Engage in moderate physical activity for at least 30 minutes, five days per week. This could be anything from brisk walking to gardening. If you are inactive, jump out of bed tomorrow and do 5 wall pushups, 10 squats holding the back of a chair, and fit in a 15-minute brisk walk. Repeat daily.
Eat Well: Aim to include at least four out of seven recommended food groups in your daily diet. These include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, dairy, healthy fats, and legumes.
Limit Alcohol: Stick to moderate alcohol consumption, defined as an average of 0.7 to 1.4 standard Australian alcoholic beverages a day (an average glass of red wine (150mls) has 1.6 standard drinks. An Australian "standard drink" contains 10g of alcohol.)
⇒ Quit Smoking: If you're a smoker, quitting is the best thing you can do for your health.
04 Slow on the Extension Builds More Strength
Our exercise of the week is... harnessing the power of eccentric movements.
Eccentric and concentric movements are two sides of the same coin. Simply put, concentric movements involve the shortening of muscles, while eccentric movements are about lengthening them.
For instance, during a bicep curl, the lift is a concentric movement, and the lowering of the weight is an eccentric movement. The downward movement of squats is eccentric, and the squeeze to come up - the contraction - is the concentric movement.
Here's where it gets interesting. Studies show that eccentric movements place a higher amount of tension on muscles compared to concentric movements. This increased tension stimulates more significant muscle growth and strength gains.
All up, eccentric-dominate exercise has been found to trigger:
- Muscle hypertrophy: This simply means your muscles grow bigger.
- Increased cortical activity: Your brain becomes more active, which helps control your muscles better.
- Changes in motor unit behaviour: How your nerves and muscles work together improves.
⇒ All these changes result in better muscle function, meaning your muscles work more efficiently and effectively.
What this means for you: Given the benefits of eccentric movements, it's time to incorporate more of them into your workout routine. Here's how:
- Focus on the Lowering Phase: Next time you're lifting weights, slow down on the lowering phase. This is where the eccentric movement happens. Try to make this phase last about 3-5 seconds.
- Try Negative Reps: Negative reps are about maximising an exercise's eccentric part. This means that you just do the eccentric movement. For instance, get a spotter to help you lift a heavier-than-normal weight, then slowly lower it on your own.
- Incorporate Eccentric-Only Exercises: Some exercises, like Nordic hamstring curls, focus on eccentric-only movement.
By giving eccentric movements the attention they deserve in your workout routine, you're set to unlock a whole new level of strength gains.
I do it subconsciously, generally counting to 4 or 5 during an eccentric movement, and squeezing the concentric movement into a 1-second power burst. You can visualise squats like this, for instance, but is works for all types of exercise.
Ready to give it a go?
PS What we mean by "more strength" is that for the same time and effort, you will build additional muscle mass and benefits compared to doing both the concentric and the eccentric phases of a movement.
Thanks for reading!
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>> My Latest Blog Post: Energise Your Golden Years: Boosting Your Desire to Exercise with Gut-Healthy Foods
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