5 Bad Fitness Habits That Are Rapidly Aging Your Body
Yeah, you work out. And isn’t exercise the “fountain of youth”? Yes, but not if you have bad fitness habits that are aging your body. There are a whole lot of benefits to getting exercise on the regular, but there can be some downsides as well that you may not even be aware of. It might be time to examine what you’re doing and see if there are some things you need to stop doing, start doing, start monitoring, or need to change up.
5 Bad Fitness Habits That Are Aging Your Body
1. Trying to Out-Train a Bad Diet
You’ve probably heard the saying, “You can’t out-train a bad diet.” Let’s face it: bad foods ages your body. If you’re not powering your finely-tuned machine with the best high-test fuel, you can’t expect it to run well and last a lifetime. What should you do? Ditch the diet foods, processed, packaged “healthy” snacks, and preservative-laden food items. Don’t overindulge in diet sodas, health bars, sugary shakes, and fat-free items. (It’s okay to have these things once in a while. Just don’t rely on them as your main source of nutrition.)
And while you’re focused on getting those whole, healthy natural foods into your diet, make sure you include plenty of protein, so your body has the resources it needs to heal and build new muscle. Plus, protein helps you keep up the fat burning and makes you feel full longer. Yes, you actually do have to feed the machine, so make sure you give it the good stuff!
Lastly, don’t expect to be able to go crazy and eat whatever you want, whenever you want. Calories add up and will spill over into fat (even calories from healthy foods) if you eat in excess. Instead, watch your portion sizes, keep a sharp eye on excess calories, and stop eating when you feel full.
2. Not Warming Up, Cooling Down or Stretching
Youthfulness is equated with flexibility, energy, mobility, and pain-free movement. If you don’t actively work to keep these things in play, you will put your body through unnecessary stress and age it prematurely. You may need to warm up your body a lot more before each workout than you used to have to do. If you don’t, you could risk pulling or tearing something. Often, these types of injuries can become repetitive, chronic, and exacerbated over time.
Ask just about any old timer in the gym about injuries they’re nursing, and you’re sure to get a long list. A little preventative stretching, warming up, and cooling down now can help you avoid many age-related injuries and keep your body supple.
3. Not Staying Hydrated
Hydration is super important when you’re active and for so many varied reasons across the board. Your body is comprised of more than 60% water, so you can imagine if you’re low on water, things just aren’t going to function as well. Your skin and hair can become brittle and your muscles less supple. Even your blood circulation and cognitive abilities are affected when you’re not well-hydrated. If you want to keep making progress in the gym and remain injury-free, get enough water every day.
Note: If you tend to sweat a lot during your workouts, you’ll need even more water than average.
4. Doing Too Much Cardio/Not Enough Weight Training
As we age, we naturally lose muscle mass every year if we don’t do something to counteract that loss. The loss of muscle with age, also called sarcopenia, can cause you to become weaker and lose mobility over time. In addition, muscle loss is often accompanied by bone loss.
How do you turn this around? Lift weights at least three times a week, preferably even more often. When you lift, don’t just go through the motions, either. Work with a progressive routine that has you challenging yourself with every successive workout.
Yes, you can still include your cardio (and you should) but make the resistance training your priority if you want to keep the muscle you have and continue to add metabolically active muscle tissue to your frame over time.
5. Skipping Rest Days
Skipping rest days is a big negative if your goal is to stay youthful. The old adage, “work hard, play hard,” applies here. Yes, absolutely hit it hard in the gym, but then on the flip side, make sure to rest at least one or two days a week. Give body parts a day or two before working the same muscles again if you’re doing resistance training.
After working out, your muscles, joints, tendons, ligaments, and nervous system all need time to recover. Your downtime is when your body rebuilds itself and heals strains and injuries. As we get older, it becomes even more important to take this time to rest.
If you want to give your body the best means to stay youthful and energetic, remember to focus on a healthy diet and proper hydration, get plenty of recovery time, lift weights to maintain your muscle mass, and remember to do your stretching, warmups, and cooldowns. When you get all these bad habits handled, you can help prevent unnecessary aging. Working out smarter now can help you avoid the fitness pitfalls that can age your body too soon.