Regular physical activity is essential to your overall well-being, especially as you age. Making that all-important choice to improve your physical activity will be the best thing you can do for yourself at this stage in your life. It will help you age younger and happier.
Here are the top six reasons why you should get and stay in shape as you age.
It is common to accept physical decline as a normal part of aging. The fact is that if you are not involved in some form of physical activity on a daily basis, you will gradually lose your natural abilities, your health, and you will soon begin to look and feel old.
Exercise is one of the most effective ways to slow down physical aging. It will help you maintain your independence as you age and increase your ability to live a life free of chronic disease, pain, and disability.
A well-rounded exercise regime will include strength training, cardiovascular exercise, balance exercises, and flexibility training.
The Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines state that we should accumulate 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise every week. This amounts to about 21 minutes a day.
Exercise leads to the release of endorphins in the brain that give you that natural high. It makes you feel good and promotes a healthy mental state. You can’t help but feel great and be energized when you exercise.
The endorphins also help keep your mind sharp. This is especially important because as we age, our mental capabilities have a tendency to decline as well.
Exercise helps you feel accomplished and gives you a higher sense of self-worth. And of course, with added physical activity, you will not only feel better, but look better too. That goes a long way towards promoting a positive mindset.
As we get older, we seem to take on more responsibilities and have longer to-do lists. All of this increases our stress levels.
Regular physical activity is a healthy way to relieve tension and help you manage stress. Exercise stimulates the production of endorphins, which has a positive effect on your emotional state. Walking, running, gardening, dancing – even just 20 minutes of continuous exercise can have great benefits for your body and mind.
Something as simple as a daily walk can be a powerful stress-reduction technique. It is easy to do and available to all. Take your worries outdoors, find a pretty place and walk a while. It is a constructive method of releasing physical energy and emotional stress. Exercise will also help get your mind off your concerns and daily pressures.
Look for simple ways to increase your daily physical activity and watch your stress levels drop.
Many women say that as they get older, they have more trouble achieving quality sleep. You may be thinking, how would exercise help me sleep better?
There are two reasons why exercise helps improve rejuvenating sleep. As you exercise, your body temperature is raised. Then the body temperature naturally drops after a few hours. This drop in temperature helps promote sleep. For this reason, it is better to exercise earlier in the day. Exercising too close to bedtime will not give your body sufficient time to cool and unwind and be ready for sleep. Closer to bedtime, the best type of exercise is something relaxing like yoga or stretching.
The next reason is that exercise is a stressor of sorts – a beneficial stressor. The body has a way of compensating for this physical stress with deeper and longer sleep.
Having strong bones and muscles will help you maintain your independence as you age. Imagine not being able to do the simplest tasks like opening a jar, bending down to pick something up, or even just getting out of bed on your own.
Doing weight-bearing exercises will help keep you strong and maintain your bone density. Weight training, walking, hiking, dancing are all great forms of weight- bearing exercise.
As you exercise, you will also remain more flexible and maintain a better sense of balance – two very important aspects of physical independence.
Love the Scale
Being physically active will help keep your weight in check. Through exercise, you will be expending calories that will not get stored as dreaded body fat.
In addition, exercise has a way of increasing your metabolism, which tends to slow down as you age.
Heart disease, diabetes, most cancers and obesity can be attributed to carrying excess weight. Reaching and maintaining a healthy weight in your 40’s and beyond will help keep disease at bay.
Once you begin to experience the many health benefits that exercise provides, I know that it will motivate you to continue to challenge yourself in new and wonderful ways.
I have designed a brief 5 minute exercise routine you can do anywhere - it requires no equipment. Look for it in chapter 4 of my book Healthy Body for Life.
Small steps now, will lead to a healthier, happier you!
Until the next one, eat well, stay active, live happy and enjoy a Healthy Body for Life!