Exercise is one of your best tools to fight the effects of aging—and your workouts don't need to be strenuous in order to reap the benefits. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), physical activity can help those with hypertension by lowering blood pressure. It can also decrease symptoms of depression and help you get a handle on any joint pain and swelling due to arthritis. Plus, exercise boosts your muscle strength and stamina, along with preserving the health of your joints, bones, and muscles. So if you're curious about the best exercises to slow aging, we've got you covered—and all you need is your body weight to perform them.
We chatted with Tyler Read, the founder of PTPioneer.com and a personal trainer who has been involved in health and fitness for the past 15 years, who shares with us six of the best bodyweight exercises to slow aging. He explains, "The following exercises help slow aging by increasing muscle and bone strength, maintaining functional mobility, and improving overall metabolic health markers."
Of course, as with any new exercise routine, it's always a smart idea to check in with a certified fitness professional or your healthcare provider to ensure you're able to safely perform each move, and do what works best for your body and overall health.
Keep reading to learn all about Read's top-recommended bodyweight exercises to slow aging. And next, don't forget to read about the 7 Best Exercises for Men to Gain Muscle Without Equipment.
"Squats are great for improving your lower body muscles, balance, and mobility," Read explains. He notes that you should descend until your thighs are parallel to the ground.
To set up, plant both feet on the ground either shoulder-width or hip-width distance apart, PureGym explains. Your toes should point out just a bit. Bend both knees, and hinge your hips back to descend into a squat until your thighs reach a parallel position to the floor. Press through both feet to return to standing.
"Pushups help maintain upper body pressing strength as well as core stability," Read says. In order to make this exercise easier, feel free to plant both hands on a wall.
To perform classic pushups, the NASM instructs you to plant both hands just outside your shoulder span under your chest. Line your hips up with your shoulders, and maintain a "neutral curve" in your lower back during this exercise. Activate your core as you bend both elbows to descend toward the floor. Once you're close to—but not touching—the ground, press yourself back up to a high plank.
"Lunges help maintain balance during walking and also improve mobility and strength in your legs and hips," Read explains.
You'll begin this exercise standing with your feet placed shoulder-width distance apart, Muscle & Strength notes. Bring one leg in front of you, and bend both knees. Lower your body into a lunge until your back knee graces the ground. Press through your front foot to rise back up to standing.
"Bird dogs are an amazing core stability exercise for lower back health," Read explains.
To perform this core-strengthening exercise, start on all fours on a yoga mat with your hands aligned with your shoulders, MasterClass instructs. Activate your core and tuck your chin as you gradually extend your left arm and right leg. Hold this position for a moment, then head back to the starting position, and repeat the motion with your right arm and left leg.
"Side planks train the quadratus lumborum, a key muscle in your core/lower back," Read says.
To set up, you'll assume a side plank by lining up your shoulder with your wrist and your head with your heel. Your feet should be stacked to create a stable base. Activate your glutes and your core to ensure your hips remain lifted. Read recommends holding your planks for a minimum of 15 seconds.
Last but not least, it's time to wrap things up with the dead bug, which Joan Pagano Fitness explains can actually be a "safe and effective" move to perform if you're dealing with osteoporosis in your spine. It's also a "safe" exercise to complete in replacement of sit-ups or crunches.
Read explains, "Dead bugs are excellent for strengthening the transverse and rectus abdominis, as well as the hip flexors."
To set up, you'll start by lying down flat on your back and bracing your core. Extend your arms and legs upward. Then, lower your left arm and your right leg toward the floor before returning to the start position and repeating on the opposite side. Make sure your lower back remains pressed into the floor throughout this exercise.