The Art Of Longevity

The Art Of Longevity

Updated: Jun 25, 2024Chief Nutrition

Thanks to a few health issues as a kid, I started my fitness training and investigations into health at a pretty young age. Swimming really improved my lung capacity. Looking back, it probably saved me.

I learned early on – the hard way – that movement is absolutely essential part of life. Movement allows us to carry out our everyday activities, whether we’re running, lifting weights, going to the shops or walking the dog. As we age, our movement patterns change. Most of us experience muscle and joint pain and increasingly limited mobility. We might get down on ourselves, saying things like, ‘I’m not the person I used to be’ but this doesn’t have to be the case. With the right mindset and the right approach, we can restore our movement and our strength and get back in the game.

Being physically active has countless health benefits, both physical and mental. But unfortunately, as we get older, people tend to do the opposite. They slow down and reduce their physical activity. This is understandable. We have less time, more pressing commitments from work and family, an aversion to risk, or maybe we’ve moved away from a specific community of physically active friends. While taking the ‘path of least resistance’ might seem like an easy option, it has disastrous effects on our health and wellbeing. So, it’s essential to reignite your motivation and consciously try to stay active and keep moving, particularly as you age.  There are three key elements to living a life of movement.


Moving well

Moving well means moving safely and efficiently without risking injury. You must pay attention to your form and technique to move well, especially when doing gym exercises and lifting weights. Whatever exercise you do, starting with a warm-up session is essential to loosen your muscles and prepare your body for physical activity. Once you start feeling comfortable with your basic movements, you can gradually increase the intensity of your workout routine. Remember that moving well and re-establishing your range of motion must include recovery – properly resting between workouts and stretching.


Moving stronger

Moving with strength is another crucial aspect of maintaining an active life. To increase your strength, you must gradually increase the resistance of your exercises. Doing so will help build and maintain muscle mass, improving overall strength and reducing the risk of falls and other injuries. Lifting weights is great for increasing strength, but so are classic exercises that involve your own body weight, like push-ups, pull-ups and planks. As a bonus, any strength training also increases bone density and reduces the incidence of osteoporosis in older adults.


Moving for life

Moving for life is a practice that incorporates physical activity into your daily routine. The aim is for it to become a lifelong habit. It’s not about doing strenuous exercises daily but rather being active for at least 30 minutes, whether walking, cycling, swimming, dancing or gardening. You could take up a new sport or activity, like tennis or golf, or a new hobby, like bushwalking or birdwatching. The key is to keep moving regularly and consistently.

Remember that physical activity doesn’t just benefit our bodies; it also positively impacts our minds. Regular exercise helps reduce anxiety and depression, improves mood and cognitive function, and reduces stress levels. Being active can also improve your sleep patterns (circadian rhythms), which will help you feel more refreshed and energised throughout the day. Your body will love the reward of a sound sleep after a session in the surf or a trail run.

Moving well, moving stronger and moving for life all contribute to a healthier and happier life. If you’re new to exercise, start small and gradually increase the intensity of your movement. It will take time to see results, but consistency is key. Doing something every day is more important than doing something occasionally. And, of course, before starting any exercise program, talk to your physician, especially if you have underlying health conditions.


What is mobility?

Mobility is the range of motion in your joints, muscles and connective tissue. Some define it as the active control of a joint when combined with strength and flexibility. Good mobility will expand the joint workplace and contribute to long-lasting changes. You can move your body into an increasing variety of positions, even some that you never knew were possible. When you have established a base level of mobility, you can train harder, recover faster and perform repetitive movements over long periods of time without putting yourself at risk of injury. You’re more durable. An improved range of motion also translates to more power, whether you’re paddling through big sets of waves, swinging a golf club or sprinting across the sand.

One of the main movement patterns we should be able to perform easily, at all ages, is squatting. But how deep can you squat without pain? Can you maintain your posture through the motion? Can you pick up weights or groceries or a toddler from this position? It’s simple, like walking freely without exertion, but it tells us much about our functional mobility. We don’t often think of this when we’re young, but soon enough, we start to notice changes in our mobility, balance, coordination and strength. Simple tasks can become much more difficult, even just picking up a box from the floor or kicking a ball with the kids.  


Why do we want better mobility? Well, there are many benefits:

  • Decreased risk of injuries (the priority)
  • Improved performance (moving smoothly in all planes)
  • Improved efficiency of motion (taking a risk without injury)
  • Improved joint range of motion (having more power in motion)
  • Reduced muscle tension and freedom of movement (having freedom of motion and faster recovery periods)
  • Improved body flow and awareness (mindfully connecting a range of motions efficiently).


Having worked over the years with people of different body types, ages and needs, I can usually see where mobility problems originate. Restrictions, slow movement, poor bodily awareness, diminished perception, a lack of engagement with the central nervous system, tightness and fatigue in the different movement patterns, high recurrence rate of injury, poor posture . . . an inability to touch toes! These days, the cases of hip and knee replacements are increasing, as are cases of bulging discs resulting from our sedentary lifestyles, and back surgeries are more common.  For many of the people I’ve helped, the main problem was that they’d never moved freely. And they’d never cared about it because it’s so much a part of modern life. They didn’t notice their restrictions until these basic movements became too hard and started affecting their daily life.  

It’s important to understand the relationship between our joints and the way they all transfer forces and loads from one to the other. The body has four main joints: the ankle, knee, hip and shoulder. If one joint is restricted, it can create problems for the others. For example, if you have a tight ankle, doing a nice, deep squat is very hard. A tight ankle can give us a lot of trouble with knee stability and create knee pain. It can also restrict your range of hip motion and add to poor posture and spine misalignment. A tight hip can present problems for shoulder rotations (like throwing or swimming). It can also cause lower back pain and switch off the gluteus muscles (in your backside).

Increased mobility relieves the tensions associated with both our sedentary lifestyles and our tendency to over-exercise before we’ve created a solid foundation. While mobility is one of our main focuses, we must always remember to complement it with strength training. Yes, you can improve your range of motion, but you must also get stronger. The body must be mobile enough for the muscles to do their job properly.


Rodrigo Perez 

is a professional coach and founder of Holistic Pro Health Performance. This is an edited extract from The Art of Longevity by Rod Perez. Published by Penguin Random House.



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