Physical activity, the most effective way to stay young

Physical activity, the most effective way to stay young

Physical exercise is of major importance. The proof ? It is now tested as a real drug, which allows to know a little more about its mode of action and its effects.

Moving is good for your health

“Physical activity accelerates the synthesis of somewhat miracle molecules, trophic factors, which increase the size of muscle fibers and their renewal, explains Professor Jean Mariani, neurobiologist doctor. She also acts on the vessels.

At the level of the brain, it has several beneficial effects: it stimulates it because any motor act involves cognitive preparation, it promotes the synthesis of neuroprotective factors; finally, it helps to oxygenate the neurons, and thereby, to maintain one’s intellectual activity. »

“Muscular maintenance allows harmonious movements, with good coordination in space”, continues Dr. Linda Benattar, geriatrician. To remain independent as to ward off diseases, there is no better solution.

Physical activity maintains reflexes, balance and breath. It reduces the risk of heart attack and stroke (cerebrovascular accident), even in the presence of risk factors. It reduces the risk of colon, breast and endometrial cancers and prevents their recurrence. For all these reasons, it saves years of life.

How much time per week of physical exercise?

The WHO urges us to start with 150 minutes of moderate physical activity each week.

“We move through our muscles, our heart and our blood vessels which bring them oxygen. By maintaining physical activity for 40 to 60 minutes, at least three times a week, we manage to maintain the ejection power of the heart and good oxygenation of the tissues”, says Dr. Christian Bénézis, sports doctor.

The problem is that you don’t always know what to choose, how to do it, where to find the time…” The most recent studies indicate that you can cut these 150 minutes into 10-minute increments,” emphasizes Laurence Clémente, sports medicine educator.

Do you lack motivation? Know that, under these conditions, each minute of exercise can save you 7 minutes of life (Plos medicine, November 2012).

4 questions to choose the right sports activity

The choice of physical activity depends on your physical condition. Its evaluation can be done in a sports medicine center or in a hospital physiology department. This is a must for having an exercise electrocardiogram and knowing your strengths and weaknesses.

A questionnaire developed by Dr. Bénézis already gives some indications.

  • 1. are you able to climb, at a good pace and without stopping, about twenty steps without being out of breath?
    Yes it’s good !
    No: you have to start with endurance activities.
  • 2. Is your waist circumference less than 88 cm if you are a woman, 98 cm if you are a man?
    Yes: you may have metabolic risk factors to assess with your doctor to adapt the activity.
    No it’s OK !
  • 3. Lying down with your legs bent in a crooked position, can you straighten your shoulders and chest to touch your knees 20 to 30 times in 1 minute?
    Yes it’s good !
    No: you must first rebuild your abs and your glutes before embarking on a program.
  • 4. Sitting on a chair, can you stand up and then sit down without leaning, 15 to 30 times in 1 minute?
    Yes: more than 20 times is very good.
    No: you need to work the muscles of the thighs and calves.

What intensity should be reached?

“For exercise to be good for your health, you have to reach the threshold of shortness of breath, that is to say the very beginning of shortness of breath”, says Laurence Clemente. This happens when you put all of your muscles into action because an oxygen debt begins to occur.

“Walking is always cited as an example, but in town, it very rarely allows you to reach this threshold,” she regrets. Depending on the weight and physical form, some will have to walk very quickly in a park, others jog, still others, because they are already athletic, run.

“The frequent mistake is to want to run too fast for your condition”, observes the specialist. If you can’t speak, carry on a conversation or make a phone call for the duration of the exercise, you are going too fast. And your heart can suffer.

It’s true, good physical condition has to be earned! The longer you have been sedentary, the longer the benefits take to come. “It takes at least six months to find your balance”, said Dr. Benezis.

Good news, there is no age to start. And we are sure to have a result, if we are regular. A study has shown that after the age of 60, walking for 30 to 45 minutes three times a week stimulates the formation of new neurons in the hippocampus, a region of the brain associated with memory.

Read also: How to get back to sport?

The list of anti-aging sports

They fight against the aging of the heart, lungs, muscles, joints, bones, or maintain the coordination of movements.

  1. Very fast walk, or uphill, without stopping: endurance activity that slows down the aging of the heart and lungs. Reduces fat mass.
  2. Jogging : idem, provided you do not have osteoarthritis of the knee or pain in its internal compartment, or pinched intervertebral disc.
  3. Bike : ditto, provided you have no problem with the patella or knees in x (valgus).
  4. Swimming : Same. To read also: What type of swimming for what benefits?
  5. step : excellent for building muscles and maintaining the heart.
  6. qigong, tai chi : excellent for building muscles and maintaining the heart. Also read: Seniors: stay healthy with Chinese gyms!
  7. Dance : one of the best activities to maintain your bone capital and tone your thigh and calf muscles.


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