You know the saying, “If you want to see what you will look like in 10 years, run a marathon?” The endurance effort involved in these activities is so intense that it changes the facial features, and the result is that … you get older, even if only for a few hours.
Perhaps this has convinced us that playing sports accelerates the aging process. After all, this belief is also ingrained because of a seemingly common-sense observation: the more you use something, the more you wear it out, and therefore the more you run, the more you “wear out” your joints.
How true are these statements? Little to none, and indeed the opposite is much more true: exercising keeps you young, and not just mentally.
Growing old does not mean becoming frail
Professor Daniel Lieberman (one of the scientific references for the famous book “Born to Run” by Christopher McDougall ) is studying the phenomenon,comparing two types of elderly people: those normally encountered in the U.S. over the age of 70 and hunter-gatherers, who lead much more active lives.
The former are inevitably destined to become wretched, slow and more fragile, while the latter-who are, let us remember, the same age as the former-are much fitter. How is that possible?
The reason is simple and it all lies in the more active life they lead. The former, on the other hand, are victims of a preconception, namely that it is natural that as we grow older we become more sedentary or indeed stop moving altogether. Why we think like that? Because we are old, and therefore, indeed, exercise could be harmful.
Nothing could be more untrue: the truth is that you age badly because you do not exercise, and you should not avoid exercise because you are old.
And not only
So exercising all your life-including old age-is a very good idea: it preserves strength and fortifies health, and it certainly does no harm.
And the benefits do not end there: in fact, it is proven that it is not only the body that benefits but also the mind. Those who move-not only in youth or adulthood but also in old age-have a more elastic and plastic mind, thus capable of agility of thought and mnemonic strength.
In short, know that if you are convinced that getting older leads to a weakening of physical abilities and thus to inactivity, you are right, in the sense that behaving this way (i.e., stopping moving) will achieve exactly this result.
As of today, however, you also know that the opposite is true.