I’ve been working in the field of aging for the past two decades, and the most important realisation I have had is that the human body is a self-healing living-machine designed to remain pain free and fit well into our nineties; meaning we don’t have to age! But remaining youthful doesn’t happen without us making intelligent, science-based decisions about how to live our lives.
The human body requires very little maintenance to remain vibrant, active and pain free for the duration of a long life, but it does require some. The million-dollar question is what exactly does it need?
In almost every case – maintaining or regaining our youth is a choice, not an inevitability caused by time or genetics. For example; we can choose to switch on the lights as we walk into a dark room or leave them off. Most likely, by leaving them off, we’d stumble around in the dark tripping over things, so most of us choose to turn on the lights to walk safely into the room. One choice makes life dangerous and difficult while the other makes life easy and enjoyable. The trouble with choices is that most people are stuck in their ways, incapable or unwilling to change their habits even when they know that they’d feel better and be healthier.
When it comes to exercising and eating habits, I have noticed an interesting phenomena. That is, once someone opens their minds to changing their habits and trying a gentler approach to fitness, they usually get addicted to the improved health benefits of increased energy and a pain-free strong body. It becomes a no-brainer to maintaining these new lifestyle changes.
To understand aging, it’s important to ask ourselves at what point in our lives did we begin to age. When did we notice that exercise routines that worked when we were younger aren’t working so well now? Are we noticing a loss of energy and strength? Is pain becoming chronic, or we can’t do stuff you used to easily do. It turns out there is a scientific explanation for all our aging woes, showing that they have little to do with the passage of time but a lot to do with lifestyle choices.
For me, science is the only place to turn when trying to understand why we age. The first question I was looking to answer was, “What is changing in our bodies that makes us age?” I found the answer in the tens of trillions of cells that lose their strength and vitality when they are unused. This includes all our cells; from nerves, blood, skin, muscles, bones, connective tissue – all of them. To stop our cells from aging, we have to do two simple things; eat nutritious food and exercise all the cells correctly on a regular basis. Most people know the difference between junk food and nutritious food, but very few know the distinction between the type of exercises that age our body and those that keep every cell in our body healthy – well into our golden years.
I’ve been exercising my entire life, from a professional ballerina with the National Ballet of Canada, to owning my own dance and fitness center. I thought I knew what correct and efficient exercising was until I started to study aging. Much to my shock, I realised that the fitness industry (which I was very much a part of) was offering workouts that actually caused damage to muscles and ligaments, while unbalancing the joints. An unbalanced body leads to the wearing down of joints, arthritis, joint replacements, torn ligaments and conditions like back pain and plantar fasciitis.
It’s been over twenty years since I set about creating a fitness program called Essentrics, that prevented all these aging conditions. The Essentrics technique rebalances the entire musculoskeletal system engaging all 650 skeletal muscles in a gentle stretching and strengthening program. This program has become been the go-to workout for tens of thousands of American Public Television viewers who’ve been doing Essentrics daily with amazing age reversing success.
The concept of Essentrics is a philosophical see-change for most fitness enthusiasts who have been trained to believe the mantra “No Pain, No Gain”. I started to understand that the majority of pain felt from doing most sports and fitness programs is real bodily damage, not healthy damage. If you don’t believe me, take a look at the thousands of physiotherapists worldwide devoted to treating sports-fitness related injuries. Suffering from both chronic pain and incapability of moving easily, to me is the definition of an old body. Getting rid of the pain and increasing full body mobility will return the body to a youthful state.
Being vibrant, active and pain free is the real symbolism of youth, and requires a mindset that chooses not to do aggressive damaging workouts, but workouts aimed at rebuilding strength and flexibility in the entire body without injuring it.
Every day, we have a clear choice – we can grow older or we can age backwards. I know which one I’m choosing.