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5 Ways to Age-Proof Your Body While You Still Can

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by April M. Short

on December 12, 2014

This piece originally appeared on AlterNet.

Despite the fact that the average life expectancy for American men is 77 years, your body begins to lose its fortitude earlier than you might have thought. “You start to lose strength in your twenties,” as Jordan Metzl, a sports doctor in Manhattan, told GQ magazine.

Our early human ancestors only lived until roughly 30, and our bodies haven’t completely evolved to match our modern-day longevity, as GQ explained in a recent article “How to Old-Proof Your Body (While You’re Still Young).” So, you pretty much peak in your 30s, and it’s all downhill from there.

But don’t freak out because if you start now, there are simple (though sometimes strenuous) steps you can take to improve your betting odds against the Grim Reaper. Here are 5 of the best tips GQ has for age-proofing your body. (Their tips were man-centric, but the following can apply to either sex.):

  1. Cardio prevents memory slippage.

That is according to the authors of a study by the Centre for Research in Epidemiology and Population Health, in France. The study found that memory might actually begin to flicker as early as 45, and suggested that heart health equals head health.

  1. Roll out your soon-to-be-creaky joints.

“Every day, grab a foam roller — those long logs in a gym that look like American Gladiators weapons — and roll out every major body part for a minute each.”

  1. Stretching throughout the day keeps your hunchback away.

“Think about your daily movements, whether they’re typing or wiping your ass: It’s all about bending forward… So every few hours at work, toss your hands behind your head and stretch for few minutes; you’ll open your chest and bend yourself back upright.”

  1. Low impact exercise, calcium and vitamin D all help keep you standing tall, literally.

“[Men] lose about half an inch per decade, starting in your forties,” GQ explains. NYU spine doctor Jeffrey Goldstein said this is because of spinal-disk degeneration and bone weakening. “It’ll happen even faster for runners, heavy laborers, and others who stress their spines,” GQ wrote.

  1. You won’t live to 90 if you’re overweight.

Lew Hollander, the world’s oldest Ironman competitor at 84, told GQ: “There are no fat old people. Show me one. Show me a 90-year-old fat person. They don’t exist! Who’s 90 years old? The little old man — well, he’s not fat, and that’s how he got old.”

For more specific exercise tips, read the GQ article.