We all hope to live for as long as possible, but what we really want is to stay healthy and energised as we age so we can enjoy life to the full. If you can dodge injuries and diseases, and retain the strength and mobility to enjoy new activities and adventures, you’ll do just that.
“The way I look at the issue of longevity is that my age may be getting older but I want to make sure what I’m doing doesn’t slow down or change,” explains celebrity trainer Matt Roberts, founder of Evolution in Mayfair.
“I want to have energy, I want to feel vibrant, and I want to have a positive attitude towards life because my body and mind are functioning in a really switched-on way.”
In his late teens Roberts weighed 76kg and had five per cent body fat. Now a 47-year-old father of two, he still weighs 76kg and has just six per cent body fat.
“The science around longevity is getting better and better,” he says, “and I have been happy to use myself as a ‘guinea pig’ to find out what works best for my clients.”
Ageing is caused by a combination of DNA damage, inflammation and oxidative stress, but with the right daily choices you can slow this process.
“A lot of it is down to how you exercise and eat,” says Roberts. “But there is also a psychological side to this. As you age, your mindset should be to keep progressing and not go backwards.”
Here are Roberts’ tried-and-tested methods for boosting longevity to help you stay strong, lean, agile and healthy long into the future.
1. Keep on moving
“To retain your youthfulness you need to ensure your circulation improves on an ongoing basis,” explains Roberts. “You need to make sure your capillaries, your cardiovascular system and your cardiopulmonary system are working phenomenally well. That will ensure there’s no vasoconstriction of the arteries or blood vessels, which can cause a lack of oxygen and nutrient supply to the muscles, brain, skin, organs and bones. Any constriction will limit your ability to feed your own body.”
To boost your circulation, try to stay active throughout the day with a blend of moderate- and low-level exercise.
“Moderate-level cardio such as cycling or fast walking should be done three days a week for 60 minutes, at a seven out of ten intensity,” advises Roberts.
“But simply walking the dog and doing DIY will keep you moving. And yoga and Pilates are good for your joints, spine and tendons to ensure you stay supple and mobile. When you feel stiff, you feel old.”
2. Think bigger
Whether you want to achieve a fitness goal, learn a new skill, or plan an adventure, make sure your days are filled with ambitions.
“Having the right mindset is essential to your longevity,” explains Roberts. “Having a purpose means you will have focus and energy when you get up each morning. So long as you have things to aim for, you are maintaining a positive mindset.”
3. Go green
Eating lots of satiating fibre-rich vegetables will help you to control your weight and insulin levels as you age and flood your body with vital nutrients.
“The science shows that eating a more plant-based diet is the best way to control the inflammation that causes ageing,” explains Roberts. “I’m largely 80-85 per cent vegan or plant-based now.
“But eating a wider range of fruit and vegetables will also ensure you develop a stronger gut biome (the ecosystem of bacteria, yeasts and fungi in the gut which help to break down food) so your body can better absorb all the different nutrients it needs.”
It is important to mix up the colours of your fruit and veg, but leafy green veg is particularly crucial for longevity as it enhances energy production in your cells.
“Broccoli also prevents molecular damage, kale lowers blood pressure, and asparagus offers a huge anti-inflammatory effect and a big boost of vitamin B and iron,” adds Roberts.
4. HIIT it hard
“As an organic system, we need to be challenged, as that is what keeps our bodies adapting and thriving,” explains Roberts. “If we are not pushed, our cellular redevelopment starts to slow. But if you push yourself with high-intensity training, you get this wonderful cascade of benefits for your heart health, lung health and muscular system through cellular regeneration.”
Whether you use the rowing machine or the ski erg, make sure you train consistently.
“High-level cardio should be done twice a week,” says Roberts. “Two sessions should involve 6-10 reps of 30-second high-intensity efforts at a nine out of ten effort, with short bursts of recovery in-between.
“And one session should involve 9-10 reps of longer 60-second efforts at an eight out of ten effort, but with longer 60-second recoveries. You need to keep pushing your body all the time.”
5. Lift off
“Resistance training is critical for longevity, because it helps protect your muscle mass, nerve function and bone density,” explains Roberts. “Resistance training also helps to produce key hormones like testosterone.
“It’s really important to produce good levels of testosterone and control high levels of cortisol if you want to feel on top of your game as you age, and resistance training really helps with that.”
Aim to perform heavy lifts twice per week, using weights which you can lift for 6-8 reps.
Words: Mark Bailey