To feel younger, move faster

Wina Sturgeon / McClatchy-Tribune News Service /

Published Mar 1, 2013 at 04:00AM

You don’t have to see a face to believe someone is old. You can tell by the way they move: Slow, shuffling steps, and slow, fumbling movements — whether taking money out of a wallet or picking up change at a store. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

The all-over, slowed-down movements of age come on so gradually, most people don’t even notice them. Movement gets even slower for those who no longer work outside the home or who live alone. And a degree of isolation sets in for those who no longer have daily contact with the rest of the world. People who are no longer prompted by the quicker pace of that world find it natural to move more slowly. In turn, small muscles atrophy so that speed and precision are no longer possible. As muscle fibers lose their strength, the body adapts to moving less and moving more slowly.

Here’s how to overcome that slowdown: Train your body to adapt to fast movement. This means you will have to push yourself a little, and focus a lot. You don’t have to go to a gym, but you DO have to constantly focus on moving as fast as possible.

For example, suppose you want to turn on the TV, then get a morning cup of coffee. Don’t stroll to the TV, run to it. Yes, even though it may be only 15 feet away, step as quickly as you can. Pick up the remote quickly, press the buttons quickly, then run into the kitchen to make the coffee, making your arms and hands do the tasks faster than they normally do.

Speed up putting on your clothing. Brush your hair and teeth faster. If you make your bed every morning, run while moving around to straighten the sheets.

In other words, concentrate on moving so fast that it’s hard for you to do — at first. If you spill something, just wipe it up — quickly. Every movement you make should be done at top speed. The only time you should move at your momentarily “normal” slow pace is when you walk down a set of stairs (walk up them fast) or get behind the wheel of a vehicle (safety first).

Every time you’re surprised by how fast you’re moving, up the ante. Start moving even faster. This constant speed workout will accomplish three important goals:

1. It will wake up flaccid muscles and build muscle fibers, which will in turn burn stored fat.

2. It will restore some of the precision of the nerves, so fingers will be less likely to fumble.

3. It will cause the body to adapt to this quicker pace of movement, so that the faster moves of youth will become a natural state of being.

Of course, you’ll do most of the slam-bang fast movement at home — where no one will stare at you. While you may have to slow the faster pace down a little when out in public, make sure you still concentrate on moving faster.

At first, it will be tiring. Your joints may ache. Remember, if joint pain sticks around even when you’re not moving, that’s a signal to back off a bit. Your main goal is to get accustomed to moving at a pace that, to you, seems much faster. Within a few weeks, your body will adapt to the constant quicker style of movement, and the pace will seem normal and natural.

As a result, not matter how many wrinkles your face may have, people will think of you as being much younger than you are, because that’s the way you move.

Is your longevity tied to your personality?

Having certain traits or even tweaking your behavior to fake these traits could add years to your life. Here are three characteristics that may boost life expectancy.

• Your glass is half full: A study that analyzed 243 elderly people (average age: 97.6) found that most were more optimistic and easygoing than the general population. If your outlook could be sunnier, write down a few things you’re grateful for daily.

• You’re everyone’s pal: Having strong social relationships can raise survival odds by 50 percent, found researchers from Brigham Young University. Not a social butterfly? Start small: Invite some pals to lunch, or consider starting a book club.

• You’re never late: Conscientiousness (being detail oriented and responsible and always wanting to do a good job) is consistently associated with longevity. Raise your conscientiousness by making (and using) to-do lists.

— McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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