7 Exercise Mistakes That Make You Look Older

Update your exercise regime to turn back the clock.

By Juliana LaBianca

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You’re always at the gymshevtsovy/ShutterstockWhile keeping an ambitious workout schedule is admirable, rest days are necessary, especially as muscles age. “Intense, prolonged exercise and sleep deprivation will release and increase levels of cortisol in the blood,” sports and rehab therapist Jav Asaro told “This will have a counter effect to insulin and increase blood sugars. These sugars go through a process and end up as a product known as Advanced Glycation End products (AGEs). AGEs then bond between the collagen fibers causing reduced elasticity, blotches, and premature wrinkles.” To reduce this type of inflammation, include at least one rest day per week. These are the other types of days you should absolutely skip the gym.

You maintain poor postureshevtsovy/ShutterstockWhether you’re exercising, taking a walk, or sitting in front of your desk at work, good posture is a must. Poor posture, on the other hand, can reshape your spine and give you a perpetually hunched back. To incorporate age-defying alignment into your exercise regime, practice with a trainer or coach who can keep your placement in check. If postural awareness is the issue, enroll in a yoga, Pilates, or ballet class to learn the principles of alignment. These easy tricks will improve your posture for good.

You leave out power movesshevtsovy/ShutterstockEver notice how the older you get, the slower your reaction times become? Keep yourself sharp by incorporating power moves into your exercise routine. Lifting heavy weights (as opposed to lifting lighter ones for more reps), performing explosive jumps, and running sprints with speed in mind will build fast-twitch muscle fibers and keep your reaction times quick. These are the squat exercises that will transform your body.

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You rely exclusively on cardioZephyrMedia/ShutterstockWhile cardio is a great habit to get into, strength training is what will tone your muscles and help you burn calories even when you’re not working out. It’s especially important for adults: One Abbott-AARP survey found that many Americans ages 50 and up lack adequate strength. “While many of the adults in our survey reported exercising, cardio was really preferred. Only about a quarter of those people are actually lifting weights,” says Abbott’s registered dietitian Tiffany Dewitt. “Evidence has really shown that doing those exercises can help you maintain your muscle.” Maintaining your muscle, in turn, will keep you looking young. These simple activities will prevent age-related muscle loss.

You neglect your pelvic floorholbox/ShutterstockThe pelvic floor might not be the first thing you think of when you consider working out, but it’s important nonetheless. “Neglect your pelvic floor muscles and you can end up with the soft round belly many women develop after middle age, as well as urinary incontinence,” Guy Andrews, MA, CSCS, told Prevention. Keep things tight with three sets of 10 Kegels, three times a day, each day, he recommends. This is how to prevent urinary incontinence during exercise.

You skip high-intensity interval trainingJacob-Lund/ShutterstockAlthough you’ve likely heard of high-intensity interval training (HIIT), it might have seemed like a passing fad. Turns out, it’s incredibly helpful in fighting signs of aging. One study, published in the journal Cell Metabolism found that older people participating in HIIT saw a 69 percent increase in mitochondrial capacity, which helps the body create energy, as well as improvements in insulin sensitivity, which can help lower the risk of diabetes. To replicate the participants routine, try three days of HIIT cycling (high-intensity bursts fused with slower-paced intervals) and two days of treadmill walking each week. This is the difference between HIIT training and cardio.

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You never de-stressshevtsovy/ShutterstockMaintain a youthful glow with zen-like activities such as yoga or the martial arts. If you’re new to a meditative practice, try one of these simple meditations to relieve stress and anxiety.

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