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Here’s a word of the day for you…
Do you know it? You should! It’s the real indicator of how old you are…way better than a calendar.
Telomeres are the protective regions at the ends of our chromosomes. Every time a cell replicates, a tiny bit of our telomeres gets lost, so they get shorter with age. When telomeres are shorter, we’re more likely to develop chronic diseases or even die sooner.
And while there’s no way to STOP humans from aging, there is some good news here. Exercise slows the telomere-shortening process significantly. So, just because you’re 50 years old doesn’t mean you’re biologically 50. The more physically active you are, the more biologically younger you become. In fact one BYU study recently concluded that people who exercise regularly shave 9 years off their biological age (at a cellular level) compared to those who are only occasionally active.
9 years, people!!!
I know I’m like a broken record here, but exercise really is the one and only Fountain of Youth out there. If you want to be younger, and FEEL like you did when you were younger, we’ve just GOT to make this stuff non-negotiable.
These exercises are a great place for beginners and/or seniors to start. You won’t need any equipment for these…just a wall, or an RV if you’re super cool like me. Speaking of you RVers, I’m sharing these with you in mind. You can do these anywhere, no gym required, so they’re RV-lifestyle-friendly. Just because you’re on the road…no excuse. Fitness should be your #1 priority no matter where you are or what you’re doing (or even how crappy you feel). If we wait to exercise for the ideal conditions, we’ll never exercise. There ARE no ideal conditions.
Okay off my trainer soapbox. Back to the workout. Each one of these exercises targets the core (which includes your back), and will also strengthen and stretch to help your posture and your joint range-of-motion. Try to repeat the entire workout routine 3 times through.
Stef’s “Take That, Father Time!” Get-Younger Be-Stronger Workout:
(I should probably work on that title…)
DIRECTIONS: Click on the picture for a one-page printable version of the exercise plan:
Exercise #1: Planked Lunge Taps
Place your hands on the wall with your feet as far back as you feel you can safely go. Alternate tapping one foot forward and then the other, without placing any weight on the tapping foot. Do a total of 10 taps per side.
Exercise #2: Tippy Toe Triceps Reaches
Stand sideways to your wall with the elbow of your near arm pointed up to the sky and your fingertips reaching down your back as far as you can. Raise to your tippy toes and reach your arm up as high as you can and touch the wall.
Exercise #3: Planked Hamstring Curls
Place your forearms on the wall (in elbow plank) with your feet as far back as you feel you can safely go. Alternate “kicking yourself in the butt” one heel to glutes, and then the other. Do a total of 10 curls per side.
Exercise #4: Side-Crunch Planks
Do a side elbow plank on your wall, reaching your far arm up the wall and extending your far leg out without letting it touch the ground. Using your core, drive your outer elbow and knee together, squeezing tightly, and then slowly return to extension. Do 10 per side.
Exercise #5: Squat Hold Snowangels
Place your back against the wall with your feet planted a couple feet (or so) away from the wall. Bend your knees so you’re slightly squatted (ensure your knees don’t pass your toes, plant feet further out if they do) and hold the squat while you lift arms along the wall as if making a snowangel. Your goal is to keep your back, head, and arms touching the wall at all times. Do 10 reps.
Exercise #6: Sumo Rotators
Stand facing the wall with your feet spread very wide apart and your toes turned outward diagonally. Keep your feet glued, and gently shift your weight to the right, bending your right knee (and keeping your left leg straight) so that you are lunged. Simultaneously, rotate your trunk to the right and use your LEFT hand to reach as far down the wall to the right as you can. Now, repeat the move the other direction, so you’re alternating your lunge and reach from right to left. Do 10 reps.
So! Those are the 6 exercises I’d love to see you start doing. They’ll make an excellent kickstarter to your new fitness-based lifestyle…But! This is far from the end of it. If you really want to combat aging, doing this workout on occasion isn’t near enough. You’ve got to get out there and do some power-walking, bike riding, trail hiking, weight-lifting…things that make you uncomfortable and sweaty…and you’ve got to do them EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. It isn’t easy fighting Father Time. But once you start seeing the rewards; a stronger body that moves more efficiently through life, new energy levels, less sicknesses…well, I’d say THAT’S when you realize all the work and time you put in is totally worth it.
Rooting for you, my sweet friends! Talk to me down below in the comments! (James always gets a million comments on his RV-geek-stuff articles…stomp. pout.)
Hi Stef – love your videos and workouts! Fitness band question… is an RV ladder strong enough to use as an anchor when we need one shoulder-height? Part of me thinks yes because they are designed to support a couple hundred pounds of someone climbing up. But, that’s different pressure than something pulling out on the ladder. I’d love to hear what you or the resident rocket scientist think 🙂
It’s true that the somewhat horizontal force of pulling on a resistance band is a different load than the mostly vertical load of someone climbing the ladder.
But depending on the exercise and your weight, it *likely* won’t be great enough to cause damage. An exception might be the removable ladders like Winnebago is including these days.
I had this same internal dialogue a few years ago. In the end, I decided to use the door hinge to anchor resistance bands instead of the ladder.
Great info Stef. Now can you give us some on race recovery time for “seniors”?
Lol…after 35+ years of triathlons our recovery time gets longer and longer especially while we are on the road.
Miss seeing you guys this year, maybe see you down the road.
Hi Kathi!!! You know, it’s crazy but there’s not a ton of research out there on recovery time for senior athletes! There’s research on recovery in general population, but when it comes to senior athletes, not so much. We certainly know, anecdotally, that senior athletes commonly report their recovery time has declined. From what we know about aging, we can assume lots of factors are at play including decreases in: muscle protein synthesis rates, antioxidants & enzymes in muscles & tissues, and lowered inflammatory responses. And then there’s just the good old decreases in the amount of muscle mass and flexibility overall. Isn’t aging fun?!? Whatever the WHY is for declined recovery, you need to focus on smart recovery more now than ever before. That includes a) restoring fluid and fuel, b) increasing blood supply to fatigued muscles, and c) promoting muscle relaxation. Here’s one of my own personal post-race recovery strategies: hot/cold showers! 30 seconds cold, 90 seconds hot. Try to endure 3 rounds! xoxo
OK Steph, I want to know how old you and James are.
I am 62 and I’ve had four open right rotator cuff repairs, so I have a 20 minute stretching routine daily. I can reach back over my shoulder with one hand and up with my other hand and touch my fingers. Can you?
Hi Mary! That shoulder stretch you’re referring to is called the Apley stretch (yep I can do it, lol), and it’s so named for a common shoulder flexibility test called the Apley Scratch Test. It is used by personal trainers and PTs to measure shoulder extension and flexion baseline ranges. Inability to perform well on the Apley Scratch test is interrelated to stiffness in the upper back and neck as well as the shoulder itself. If these muscles become rigid or foreshortened, your ability to rotate your shoulder outward, upward, and backward will be impeded. Good for you for stretching daily! It’s an excellent habit to have in your fitness arsenal. Hopefully you’re also getting your cardio in; with intensity high enough you’re breaking a sweat and have difficulty talking. And on top of that getting your strength training in as well! To age well, we really need to be exercising daily and ensuring we’re getting a good variety in. I’ll be rooting for you that you’ll stay on top of that!
As for our ages, lol, well there’s lots of posts about that around here! Especially this year, with all of James’ 50th birthday celebrations!
Here’s the intro to the first of his 50th birthday celebrations: https://www.thefitrv.com/blog/youre-invited-to-james-50th-birthday-cycling-extravaganza/
Here’s us on his 50th birthday Mallorca trip: https://www.thefitrv.com/blog/mallorca-ride-camp-days-1-and-2/
And here’s a post from James on his boys-only France 50th birthday trip: https://www.thefitrv.com/blog/why-do-these-roads-only-go-up/
You are a Rocket Scientist of the fitness world!
Thank You for your kindness and helping make this a better world!
And with that, Larry just moved up to my favorite commenter of the week! Thanks Larry! I tease James about being OCD but I suppose when it comes to fit living, well I’m just as bad. James obsesses over RVs, and I’ve got push-ups, lol! xoxo
I’ve just found your one-sheet exercise ‘printables’ and am adding them to my travel binder for my next journey. Since all my maps, reservations, and receipts are kept there, I have no excuse to avoid exercise this summer! Are you planning a one-sheet reminder for the exercises on this page? It would be a great help.
Thanks, and keep moving!
Hi Barbara! So happy to hear you’re printing out a bunch of the workouts around here for your travel binder. YESSSS! And BTW we’re binder people too; we call ours the “Binder of Fun” and we don’t leave home without it. https://www.thefitrv.com/blog/roadside-america-quirkiness-why-we-obsessively-plan-ahead/
Thanks for the prompt on creating a printable for the anti-aging exercises: I CAN DO THAT! Give me a week or so, and do go subscribe to our newsletter. You’ll get an email each Monday on the new content we just added to the site. That way you’ll see once I’ve posted it.
Hi! Bryan and I are starting our full-time adventure! I know how important exercise is and have seen great results in my own life even if I am still overweight. Have you posted a weekly schedule somewhere for newbies on tthe road? I’m going to miss my Pilates class. It’s so much harder to make yourself do something! But I am determined! Thanks for sharing with us. I would love to share your stuff on my blog
How exciting you’re going full-time, Luann! Nope, I haven’t posted a weekly schedule anywhere. Exercise is so personalized, especially for travelers that setting up a general schedule for an unknown reader sets them up for failure. But I do have tons of workouts and fit tips around here, so keep poking around! Hope your full-time adventures are incredible! xoxo
Well, that was surprising. I’ve been neglecting my upper body, and the Snowangels revealed how tight I’d let my shoulders get. Will get right on that.
As for aging well, my husband and I can see the effects of an active lifestyle on our parents, who are in their 80s. My mother has always been very active gardening and landscaping. She is a force of nature with no noticeable mental or physical decline. My dad has declined, but Mom’s lifestyle forces him to do better. My husband’s parents? A lifetime of smoking, drinking, eating poorly, and zero exercise has led to a severely compromised old age. They are bent over, shuffling, breaking hips, waiting for the end. My mother is flexible, extremely mobile, full of energy, and busy planning the next decades of her life. She is a great example of how to age well. Even her doctor now asks her for health advice!
Yep, the tight-shoulders thing is something common I find with my trainees…and I’m glad you’ve discovered it so now you can get to work on it. Sounds like your mother is an excellent role-model for you in how you want to age…and so interesting you’ve been able to witness the difference between your mom and grandmom’s lifestyles and how that’s impacting their later years. It’s an excellent eye opener that I’m sure will keep you motivated! xoxo
My telomeres are so short, I’m afraid I’ve completely lost them.. I’m not even sure I ever even HAD any…
I am SO glad you are Rooting for me Stefany..
(Does that mean I STILL have to do the exercises too?)
LOL, Scott!!! Well I’m going to remain optimistic there’s hope for your telomeres yet. And YES! Go do the exercises! 🙂
Younger with every workout! I LOVE it!!! If that doesn’t motivate, what will? Thanks for the motivation to keep up daily “sweaty” exercise. BTW, I heard you and James do an excellent YouTube interview in which you talked about the body’s training response. I found it very motivational and wanted to listen to it again but I don’t remember who interviewed you. Have you written an article about this topic?
Awww, hi Pat! Yup! I have definitely written on the topic of the training response and how to use it to age well…here’s a recent one worth checking out! https://www.thefitrv.com/fitness-tips/the-road-to-wellness-why-should-i-exercise/
Stef, I won’t talk you down and I don’t want you pouting about not getting enough comments lol!!!
You’re preaching to the choir with me – I’ve exercised almost every day since my mid-20’s (and yes that’s 40 years now!!!) and am glad that I do. I hope my telomeres are still long and healthy – only father time will tell. And by the way, we just bought a TRX to take along on our RV trips thanks to you!!
P.S. I love the cartoon of the two telomeres!!!
Awesome you’ve got a TRX! It’s such a blast on the road, you’ll have to let me know what you think! (and BTW my guess is your telomeres are pretty stinking long…)
On my way to senior exercise class in a few minutes. We do the wall thing, but you have added some new twists to it. Will suggest it to the class, thanks! In two years since I started going to class twice a week, my bone density test showed that my bones have improved! Just wanted you to know that what we call The Temper Tantrum is our favorite exercise! You suggested it in your article about doing exercises in the RV while driving. While seated we stomp our feet as fast as we can for twenty seconds.
The “Temper Tantrum” HA!!! That’s a perfect name for that exercise, I love it! That’s way more fun than “Fire Feet.” Glad your class is doing that one regularly! Quickness is a skill that fades with age, and this exercise is great for combating that. That’s the first exercise I demonstrate here: https://www.thefitrv.com/workouts/the-totally-awesome-passenger-seat-workout/
Just the doable kickstart I need. Thank you for such positive encouragement for every level of fitness!
The most vulnerable time for someone on an exercise journey is right at the beginning…where you are now, Dévon . It’s not a habit yet, and we humans live for our habits and routines. You really can make it happen and CAN make it an established habit, especially once you learn to beat back those lazy voices in your head that’ll try to talk you out of exercising with a million excuses. When they say, “not today…” you say, “TODAY!!!” xoxo #rootingforyou
There goes my excuse about not having exercise equipment when we travel. HA! Thanks for the inspiration.
LOL! My most favorite workouts are when we travel! The changing settings make every workout novel and interesting. Glad you swung by and caught the article, LC! Stay strong! xoxo
Stef you are so motivating! I’ve been feeling so out of shape and old the last few weeks. (must be those shrinking telomeres!). It’s time to step it up and I am going to start with these 6 exercises! They look very doable. Thanks for the much needed push!
Awww, Cathie! I’m so glad I caught you at a time when it was on your mind. Exercise is empowerment. It tamps out those negative feelings and makes you feel like you can tackle the world. Set a goal that no matter what, this next week you’ll do something EACH day. See if you can stick to it (SPOILER: you can!). I’m rooting for you! It’s a slow hard journey, but once you make exercise a life priority, it changes you in the most incredible ways. xoxo