We try to continually remind ourselves of the importance of exercise and a healthy diet, yet the majority of us don’t follow through with this advice. Whether we struggle to find the time or are intimidated by the hustle and bustle of our local gym, regular physical activity tends to fall by the wayside amid our busy lifestyles.
Though regular exercise is vital no matter your age, it gets more and more essential the older we get. We often associate getting older with slowing down and taking it easy -- but this does not need to be the case. Here are five facts you should know about exercise and aging.
1. Regular Exercise Improves Your Overall Health
We start with what might be the most apparent fact but is also the most important. Frequently moving our bodies improves overall health. Here are just a few of the health benefits of exercise, according to Harvard Health Publishing:
Improved cardiovascular health
Aerobic exercise increases blood flow to the heart.
Develop muscle strength and bone density
Walking, jogging or other weight-bearing activity lowers the risk of osteoporosis and improves bone density.
Lower risk of heart disease
Regular physical activity can lower blood pressure and cholesterol, reducing the strain on your heart and buildup in your arteries. It can also aid in maintaining a healthy weight, which protects against multiple obesity-caused diseases.
Strengthen your immune system
The healthier and stronger your body is, the better it can fight off infection and disease. It can also make recovering from illness quicker and easier.
2. Exercise Doesn’t Have to be Vigorous to be Beneficial
The idea of jumping into an intense workout program can seem incredibly daunting. Suffering injury during exercise is always a valid concern, but it is even more concerning as our bodies age. This risk often stops us dead in our tracks as we contemplate exercise.
Here’s some good news: as Time Magazine reported in 2016, several studies that suggest exercise doesn’t have to be extremely intense to be beneficial. There are many safe and simple exercises you can do that improve your overall health, such as brisk walking, swimming or even yard work.
3. Help Maintain Ability to Live Independently
As we age, performing day-to-day tasks can get more challenging. Requiring assistance, whether from family members or health professionals, can make anyone feel like a burden. Optimal health and mobility are essential for living independently. Including regular activity can help maintain and even improve your mobility as you age, allowing you to keep or even take back your independence.
4. Improve Mood and Overall Happiness
According to the ADAA (Anxiety and Depression Association of America), feelings of depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide. Aging adults with mobility issues have an even higher risk of developing feelings of depression and anxiety. Fortunately, there is a natural treatment that can help boost your mood.
You guessed it! Exercise.
Not only does physical activity naturally release our body’s feel-good chemicals (endorphins), it also improves brain function, even at the low-intensity level. Improved brain health combined with other benefits, like improved sleep and higher levels of energy, automatically increase our overall mood and happiness.
5. Reduce medical expenses
Not only can exercise reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, but it can also improve many other chronic conditions. The National Council on Aging reports that four out of five adults aged 50 and older suffer from at least one chronic condition. Some common conditions are chronic joint and back pain, diabetes, and arthritis. Medications often prescribed for these chronic conditions can add up quickly and become costly and inconvenient. These medications mostly focus on treating symptoms instead of root causes. They may even come with new symptoms of their own.
The incorporation of exercise can reduce and even eliminate the need for medication by naturally treating the causes of these conditions. Exercises that improve flexibility and strengthen muscle can aid in improving and eliminating joint and back pain, as well as arthritis. It can also improve cognition.
Make a Plan to Make Exercise Part of Your Life!
Including regular exercise into your lifestyle can significantly improve your quality of life and extend your lifespan. It is essential to consult with your doctor before adopting a new exercise regime. The benefits of adding consistent exercise to your daily life are well worth the effort. Thankfully, there are many physical activities to choose from that can not only fit into your routine but can also be very enjoyable.