The older we get, the more important it is to maintain an active lifestyle.
Regular exercise helps to boost energy, maintain your independence and manage symptoms of illness or pain.Exercise isn’t just good for your body, it’s also good for your mind, mood and memory. Starting or maintaining a regular exercise routine can be intimidating for anyone and as we get older we may also be concerned with illness, on going health problems, injuries or falls. If you’ve never exercised before you may not know where to begin, or feel you’re too old or frail, or think of exercise as boring.
These may seem like good reasons to avoid it, but they’re actually perfect reasons to get started or get back at it. No matter your age or physical condition you can benefit from exercise. Here are some common myths about exercise and aging:
1) There’s no point in exercising I’m going to get old anyway.
Truth: Exercise and strength training helps you look and feel younger and stay active longer. Regular physical activity lowers your risk for a variety of conditions, including Alzheimer’s and dementia, heart disease, diabetes, colon cancer, high blood pressure and obesity.
2) Exercise puts me at risk of injury.
Truth: Research shows that a sedentary lifestyle is unhealthy for adults over 50. Inactivity often causes older adults to lose the ability to do things on their own. Regular exercise, by building strength and stamina, prevents loss of bone mass and improves balance, actually reducing the risk of injury.
3) It’s too late. I’m already too old to start exercising.
Truth: You’re never too old to exercise. If you’ve never exercised before, or it’s been a while, start with light walking and other gentle activities.
4) I’m disabled, exercise is too difficult.
Truth: Being injured or disabled does present special challenges, but there are things you can do. Lifting weights, stretching, water aerobics, exc. These exercises are low impact, increase range of motion, improve muscle tone and promote cardiovascular health, which is key to staying healthy and strong as you age.
Now that we’ve cleared that up, let’s go over the main physical and mental benefits of exercising as you age.
Weight loss- As metabolism naturally slows with age, maintaining a healthy weight becomes increasingly difficult. Exercise helps increase metabolism and builds muscle mass which burns more calories! Maintaining a healthy weight is a big part of your overall wellness.
Illness and chronic disease- exercise at any age, but especially when we age results in improved immune function, better heart health and blood pressure, better bone density and better digestive functioning. Those who exercise also have a lowered risk of several chronic conditions including osteoporosis and colon cancer.
Enhanced mobility, flexibility and balance-Exercise improves, your strength, flexibility and posture, which in turn will help with balance, coordination and reducing the risk of falls. Strength training also helps alleviate the symptoms of chronic conditions such as arthritis.
Improved sleep- Poor sleep in not an inevitable consequence of aging and quality sleep is important for your overall health. Exercise often improves sleep, helping you fall asleep more quickly and sleep more deeply.
Boosts mood and self confidence- Endorphins produced by exercise can actually help you feel better and reduce feelings of sadness or depression. Being active and feeling strong naturally helps you feel more self confident and sure of yourself.
Good for your brain- Exercise benefits regular brain functions and can help keep the brain active which can prevent memory loss, cognitive declines and dementia. Exercise may even help slow the progression of brain disorders such as Alzheimers disease.
Aging certainly comes with it’s challenges and although some of these simply can’t be avoided, many of them can be made much easier when we take care to maintain our health, wellness and strength. Exercise, at any age is extremely beneficial and especially as we age to maintain overall good health, brain and cardiovascular function and flexibility and mobility. Your exercise routine doesn’t have to include heavy weight lifting or marathon running to make a difference. Simple exercises like, walking, stretches, aerobics, biking, swimming exc. all make a huge difference if done on a regular and consistent basis. Developing a regular exercise routine, that you feel good about and enjoy is one of the greatest things you can do for yourself.