The Importance of Exercise at Any Age
Age and Exercise
Many people agree that age is just a number, but even if you feel young at heart your cellular metabolism starts to slow down as you turn 25. It is important not to allow aging to slow you down because a sedentary lifestyle can lead to heart disease, diabetes and other lifestyle-related diseases. In fact, studies have shown that a sedentary lifestyle actually changes the physical makeup of your brain.
The Benefits of Exercise
Improved Mental State
Exercise causes your body to release endorphins, known as “happy hormones,” which put you in a better state of mind. It even enhances the mental health of those suffering from depression or anxiety. Endorphins keep your mind sharp and improve mood, confidence and self-esteem.
Reduced Risk of Disease
Hypertension, stroke and cancer are leading killers, but studies have shown that exercise decreases cholesterol, blood pressure, diabetes and obesity, which are all risk factors for these diseases.
Highly active men also have a lower risk of developing colon cancer than their sedentary counterparts.
Restful Sleep Patterns
Lying awake in bed is probably not the best way to spend your night when you have a full day of work ahead of you. Multiple studies have shown that exercise enables your body to rest better at night due to increased endocrine activity and a decrease in cortisol levels.
Renewed Social Interactions
Exercise doesn’t have to be boring. Instead, it could be a great way to interact with others. A friendly basketball game at your rec center or a walk through your neighborhood could all lead to new friendships and relationships.
Types of Exercise
- Aerobic Exercise – Increases breathing and heart rate. Examples: brisk walking, swimming, everyday chores like doing yard work, vacuuming or washing the car.
- Strength Training – Builds bone density and strengthens muscles. Examples: lifting weights, using resistance bands or weight machines, lifting things in the garden, carrying grandchildren or climbing stairs.
- Stretching – Increases flexibility and improves movement. You can stretch at home for about 10 minutes a day or take a yoga or Pilates class.
- Balance Exercise – Prevents the risk of falls in older individuals. Examples: standing on one foot or even standing on your tiptoes to reach a tall shelf.
Make sure you see your physician before you start any new exercise regimen. He or she may give you suggestions to make it more suitable and beneficial to your needs.
- Start Slow. Warm up, jog or stretch before you begin any exercise. Don’t start by running five miles the first day that you start. Seven minutes at a time is the new recommendation in the exercise world – increase slowly from there.
- Seek Professional Help. You may start by consulting with a certified personal trainer if you are unsure about how or where to begin. He or she can help you get started and keep a steady pace as you progress.
- Use Appropriate Gear. Buy properly fitting shoes to prevent injuries. Wear loose-fitting, comfortable clothing. Make sure you understand how to use equipment.
- Stay Hydrated. Avoid eating before you work out but drink plenty of water before and after you exercise. This is particularly important during summer months.
- Listen to Your Body. Do not ignore aches, pains, lightheadedness or indigestion. Do not exercise when you are ill. Listen to your body and stop when it tells you to stop.
- Reward Yourself. Give yourself small, non-food rewards on a regular basis. For example, buy yourself something that you’ve been wanting for a long time.
It’s never too late to start exercising. Get a friend to join you and choose an activity that you enjoy, so you will be more inclined to stick with it. Have fun as you get healthy. Don’t get discouraged by setbacks. Just get back up and try again.
- "Exercise & Physical Activity: Your Everyday Guide from the National Institute on Aging." February 16, 2016.
- “Exercise and Aging: Can You Walk Away from Father Time?" Harvard Health Publications 2005.
- “Physical Activity Is Essential to Healthy Aging." June 4, 2015.
- Greenlund, K. J., et al. "Physician Advice, Patient Actions, and Health-Related Quality of Life in Secondary Prevention of Stroke through Diet and Exercise." Stroke 33.2 (2002): 565-70.
- Klika, B., Jordan, C. "High Intensity Circuit Training Using Body Weight: Maximum Results with Minimal Investment." ACSM Health and Fitness Journal 17.3 (2013): 8-13.
- Slattery, M. L. "Physical Activity and Colorectal Cancer." Sports Med 34.4 (2004): 239-52.
- Spartano, N. L., et al. "Midlife Exercise Blood Pressure, Heart Rate, and Fitness Relate to Brain Volume 2 Decades Later." Neurology 86.14 (2016): 1313-9.
- Catherine Murari-Kanti