Smorgasbord Health Column – Turning Back the Clock – Chapter Seven – Flexibility and Exercise are the key to a youthful body

Over the next few weeks I am going to be sharing my book on anti-aging.. Turning Back the Clock. Some of the strategies have been included in other posts on the various areas of health that can accelerate the natural aging process, but in this book I bring them all together. Some of you may have already followed the series that I posts in February 2016, but I hope enough time has passed for you to find it worth another look.

This is a natural anti-aging programme. We all age but many of us are assisting the process with diet and lifestyle choices. This book takes a look at the physical, mental and emotional aspects of aging and how a little attitude adjustment goes a long way!

Chapter Seven – Flexibility and Exercise are the key to a youthful body

In this chapter I am going to be looking at exercise in general as an anti-aging tool and then exercises to increase flexibility. I think that it is important to review exactly why it is so important for the body to move and exercise regularly. A great start to becoming fitter is to learn how to breathe correctly and I covered that in

Our bodies were never designed to be static and the saying “Use it or Lose It” is very appropriate. If you were to leave your car parked up without moving it for months on end you would expect that certain parts would certainly rust and parts like the tyres would probably perish and be unusable. If you left your battery connected it is likely to be flat as a pancake. In short, the car would be kaput.

The same thing applies to us. Muscles wither and shrink – we accumulate fat – bones become soft and brittle and our internal systems are sluggish and unresponsive. We can suffer from depression and we certainly slide further and further down the slippery slope of ill health the longer it goes on.

Is it ever too late to take up exercise?

No, it certainly is not. Although I would recommend that if you have been sedentary for a long time that you talk to your doctor before embarking on a marathon training course, if you start out slowly and carefully, within weeks you will be feeling and looking a great deal better.

What sort of health benefits can someone expect from doing simple exercises such as walking?

As I mentioned in the previous chapter on breathing, you do not have to race around doing aerobics and playing squash to obtain the aerobic (oxygen) benefits you need.

If you are doing the breathing exercises and combine these with a walking programme that increases in intensity over a period of weeks you will be getting all the benefits you need. In fact recent research is showing that if you are not fit, it can be dangerous for some people to contemplate marathon running if their heart muscle is not as healthy as it needs to be for that sort of sustained activity.

Even moderate exercise, for example, can reduce the risk of Coronary Heart Disease, Strokes, Diabetes, High Blood Pressure, Bowel Cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, Osteoporosis, Arthritis and Stress. All these conditions are ones that head the list of the leading causes of aging, so walking is definitely up there as an exercise of choice. If you are trying to lose weight and especially if you are very overweight, walking is the safest and most sensible way to exercise to begin with.

One of the most interesting studies that I read showed a very clear connection between exercise and recovery rates from breast cancer. Results showed that women who exercised between three and five hours a week doubled their chances of a full recovery and survival. Women who were sedentary were twice as likely to die from the disease. I find that very compelling and more than enough reason to exercise daily – this must also apply to recovery rates from other cancers too, logically.

Apart from increasing bone and muscular strength it will also increase your joints range and flexibility. Perversely, doing more exercise can ease the pain of rheumatic joints and if you know elderly. regular walkers you will see what a great posture they have.

What sort of exercise programme should we be following?

Everyone should be out there every day in the fresh air for at least 20 minutes. Brisk walking is the best and being slightly breathless is the point at which you will be fat burning and helping your body to lose fat and form muscle.

If you are currently walking for 20 minutes per day then you need to measure the distance you are walking. Over the next 6 weeks raise the time you walk to 40 minutes per day and you can split that if you like. Walking uphill during part of your walk will increase the intensity but the right walking speed for you depends on your age and sex. Over a period of time, aim to walk at an average speed of 3 to 4 miles per hour.

Do not overdo it – this is not a challenge but a gradual way to increase your level of fitness, health and youthfulness over a period of weeks and not days.

How important is our flexibility as we get older?


We can maintain our flexibility and actually improve it as we get older. The main reason we get stiff as we age is because we stop moving our bodies into different positions. The body is designed to move, not stay sitting, or slouching, the majority of the time! The more flexibility and space we have in our bodies, the deeper the breaths can be which as you read in the previous chapter has so many vital health benefits.

3 simple exercises to increase flexibility


Stand with hands by your side and as you inhale your breath, raise your arms slowly until they are above your head in a straight line with the rest of your body. At the same time as you raise your arms, also lift your heels to stretch the whole body upwards, whilst on tip toe. When you exhale lower the arms slowly and the heels back to the floor it is also a balance exercise so it helps develops concentration and focus. Keep your eyes fixed on a point during the exercise. Repeat 7/8 times.

No 2.

It is important not to do this exercise if you have a chronic back problem. Also only do a gentle arch to start with and increase the height over a period of weeks.

Go onto all fours. Hands placed on the floor under the shoulders and your knees under the hips. Imagine what a cat looks like when it gets up to stretch after napping. It arches its back up into the air.

Now with the back flat, exhale and arch the spine up, dropping your head into a relaxed position. Your abdomen is drawn up to support the spine in the arched position. Pause to feel the stretch. Inhale slowly flattening the back again. Pause. Exhale; slowly arch the spine up again etc. Always work slowly. Repeat at least 8 times.

No 3.

This posture is universally recognised as one of the best to help lower back pain but again make sure that you do not attempt if you are very sore. Take it gently over a period of time.

Lie down on your back. Inhale taking your arms back above your head, exhale bringing the right knee to your chest with your hands around it, to draw it in closer. Inhale as you lower your arms back down to your side and your leg back on the ground. Exhale bringing the left knee up with hands on it…and continue 8 times to each knee. Then 8 more times with both knees coming to chest together.

Then relax and lie flat for several minutes to appreciate what you have done and enjoy the benefits of the movements and deep breathing.


Other forms of exercise. When you reach a level of fitness that you are comfortable with then take to another level. For some people Yoga, Tai chi are wonderful for keeping the body supple and for others tennis, squash, jogging. For me swimming is top of the list and it does not take long for me to get fit if I swim for 45 minutes three times a week. It is exercises virtually every muscle in the body including the facial muscles when you jump in and find the water is only 15 degrees! Dancing is also fantastic exercise provided you do not have knee problems but after several weeks of walking or swimming you may find that has improved enough to take to the floor.

To encourage you one of my favourite dance videos of a couple who are fabulous and boy does he have some moves!!

The previous chapters are in the directory:

©sallycronin- Turning Back the Clock 2013

A little bit about me nutritionally.

A little about me from a nutritional perspective. Although I write a lot of fiction, I actually wrote my first two books on health, the first one, Size Matters, a weight loss programme 20 years ago. I qualified as a nutritional therapist and practiced in Ireland and the UK as well as being a consultant for radio. My first centre was in Ireland, the Cronin Diet Advisory Centre and my second book, Just Food for Health was written as my client’s workbook. Here are my health books including a men’s health manual and my anti-aging book.

All available in Ebook from

And Amazon UK:

Comprehensive guide to the body, and the major organs and the nutrients needed to be healthy 360 pages, A4:

Thank you for dropping in and if you have any questions fire away.. If you would like to as a private question then my email is I am no longer in practice and only too pleased to help in any way I can. thanks Sally

18 thoughts on “Smorgasbord Health Column – Turning Back the Clock – Chapter Seven – Flexibility and Exercise are the key to a youthful body

  1. Hi Sally,

    I’m gradually whittling down the number of newsletters I’m subscribed to because my inbox is ridiculous. However, I shan’t be unsubscribing from Smorgasbord. As the name suggests, ‘smorgasbord’ covers a variety of subject matter, and I love that! It’s what I endeavour to do with my Creating My Odyssey. A renaissance soul blog.

    I know it’s said that one should stick to one or two subjects, but with a mind like mine, that’s impossible. Anyway, who came up with that rule? Clearly a person who doesn’t quite understand us polymath types! Give me creativity, travel, gardens, exercise, science, health, biology, you name it… any day of the week!



    On 20 Mar 2018 10:31, “Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life” wrote:

    Smorgasbord – Variety is the Spice of Life. posted: ” Over the next few weeks I am going to be sharing my book on anti-aging.. Turning Back the Clock. Some of the strategies have been included in other posts on the various areas of health that can accelerate the natural aging process, but in this book I “

    Liked by 1 person

  2. And now onto exercise! The first question was ‘Is it ever too late to exercise? NEVER! I discovered the gym at age 46 and remember thinking: This is the age when one must consider doing exercise and try to keep going. Admittedly I didn’t, although I did keep going for around ten years.

    I still visit the gym when the mood strikes 🤣 but Husband and I enjoy long walks when we’re away, paddling our Canadian canoe and cycling. I do yoga (I’ve always been impressively flexible) and husband does various exercises for various bodily ailments.

    So, to the question ‘Is it too late to start?’ That’s the time to get going. As younger people we’re invariably on the move anyway, but age slows us up, so all the more reason to move and keep those bodies reasonably toned.



  3. I can’t agree more exercise is key! I go to Pilates twice a week and until recently I went to the gym three times a week. I only stopped the gym because I found it so monotonous! I now walk more often and further.
    I have found exercise such a boon, have broken my back on two occasions I am grateful to how it has helped me. 💜

    Liked by 1 person

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  5. Great chapter Sal. I’m sure getting a lot more exercise while away. I hope I can maintain some kind of regime when I return, lol. I know how hard it is to start over after being complacent too long. ❤


  6. I do exercise most days and I do the five Tibetan Rejuvenation Rites every morning, although some days it’s an effort, but I start the day with it, so at least I know I’ve done something positive (and usually I feel better by the end of it). 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Pingback: Smorgasbord Weekly Round Up – Madonna, Primulas, Lemon Grass Chicken and Springtime Literature | Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life

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