Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Spinning and a smoothie

Having digressed slightly I want to get back to my series on anti-aging and finish it off by covering moderate exercise and stress management in one go.

Stress management shouldn't be new to NITC readers, I'm always harping on about how important it is to schedule proper downtime and prioritize relaxation, but if you need a motivator to get started then avoiding wrinkles is a pretty good reason.

You can eat all the antioxidants in the world, but if your life is very stressful it's going to show on your face. And not just in frown lines ... your skin will age faster and become pallid and grey. Not convinced? Just look at some photos of Tony Blair or Gordon brown before and after they were Prime Minister - that certainly is a stressful job and it shows!

So what's the anti-dote ... well the opposite of stress, and that is relaxation. This means doing something that helps the brain switch off and calm down - it can be taking a nap, having a massage, going for a relaxed walk, getting some peace and quiet on your own or going to a yoga class. Make sure you do something properly relaxing at least once a week to counter the aging effects of stress.

Now alot of people use exercise as an anti-dote to stress and it certainly is a good way to vent any pent up frustration, but with this caveat: Exercise that has you slightly out of breath for more than 45 minutes actually creates stress in the body. That's not to say it's not good for your health in terms of cardiovascular fitness, immune health etc. and I would definitely recommend moderate exercise as a way to keep your body flexible, fit and young. But intensive exercise doesn't count as stress reduction, and may even warrant some extra down time in the diary.

So half an hour on the bike is fine, but if you're regularly doing hour long fitness classes or training hard for a race then you are infact accelerating your bodies aging process rather than slowing it down. This is due to the increased cell respiration, which generates more oxidative damage, and is why athletes and anyone doing alot of exercise has a much higher requirement for anti-oxidants.

I would certainly always recommend anti-oxidant supplements for high exercises plus the use of fresh vegetable juices or fruit smoothies to up your intake. Most high-end London gyms have healthy snack bars where you can pick up fresh smoothies (with some added protein powder for muscle recovery), so follow your spinning with a smoothie to keep yourself looking and feeling more grad than gran!

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