First of all, why is it important to stay active as we age? As we age, we can feel less stamina and agility than we did when we were younger. But this doesn’t mean we should stop moving altogether. In fact, it’s the opposite! By incorporating regular activity into our lives, we can actually improve our stamina and agility, feeling stronger both physically and mentally. In fact, according to the CDC, exercising regularly is one of the most important things you can do for your health.
Here are 5 benefits of exercise as you age, which can help you take care of your mind and body for the long term.
1. Increased Bone Density
As we get older, our bones can become more brittle and weaker. This sets up for risk for fracturing bones and osteoporosis. One of the effects of exercise on aging is that exercise can help slow bone loss and even build and strengthen bone. By adding a regular weight bearing workout to your routine, your bones adapt by building more bone. This means that when you workout, you are actually making it less likely that you will break a bone! For maximum bone benefits, try to incorporate weight bearing exercises such as walking, hiking, jogging, climbing stairs, playing tennis, and even dancing. Stronger bones are one of the most important benefits of exercise as you age because that can prevent all kinds of other health problems later in life.
2. Improved Balance
This is a big effect of exercise on aging, especially as you start chasing around grandchildren! It’s no secret that as you age, your chance of a harmful fall increases. Falls can lead to serious injury, such as broken bones or head injury. And even when they don’t cause injury, falling can make you fearful of future falls, which can lead you to cut back on everyday activities.
Luckily, exercise makes a huge difference in our balance as we age. Working out will improve your muscle strength, coordination and balance, making it less likely that you will have a fall. Regular walks, simple balance exercises like weight shifts or balancing on one leg, or even practicing yoga can all greatly improve your balance, strength and confidence.
3. Better brain and mental health
Moving your body is good for your brain! Numerous studies show the benefits of exercise for your brain and mental health. According to one study, regular exercise can not only help reduce anxiety and depression, but also can reduce your risk of cognitive decline, including dementia.
Other researchers have found that aerobic exercises (like walking, dancing, or strength circuits) are particularly helpful for maintaining brain health, even for those who are at risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. This is one of many huge benefits of exercise as you age; mental health is important as we segue into the later years of our lives.
4. Improved heart health
Most people know this one. When you get your heart pumping during exercise, you are also improving a variety of aspects of heart health. We’re talking lower blood pressure, healthier cholesterol levels, better blood sugar regulation, and a better heart rate. In fact, several studies have also shown that people who exercise regularly are less likely to suffer a sudden heart attack or other life-threatening cardiac event.
Keeping our hearts strong is key to staying healthy, so this should be reason enough to start exercising regularly!
5. Improved mood
One of the greatest benefits to making exercise a part of your routine is that it makes you feel good! Exercising helps to release feel-good endorphins and other brain chemicals that can help to trigger that happy feeling, while also reducing symptoms such as low self-esteem and even depression. Plus, the more you exercise and the stronger you get, the better your confidence gets a boost as well! That has a ripple effect through all of life.
It’s time to get started!
Now that we’ve covered why it is important to stay active as we age, here’s the good news: exercising doesn’t have to be complicated! And it doesn’t even matter what you do. Exercise can mean going to the gym, or it can simply just taking a daily walk. I even love to move by getting out in my garden! What’s most important is that you make exercise and movement part of your regular routine. For maximum benefits, aim to get 150 minutes weekly of moderate intensity exercise. If you’re new to exercising or haven’t done it in a while, start off slowly, with 15-20 minutes at a time.
And always make sure to check with your doctor before starting any new exercise routine.
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