Exercise and Growing Older – Why is it Important?

The good news it is never too late to start to exercise…..

There are many reasons why we tend to slow down and become more sedentary with age. It may be due to health problems, weight or pain issues or worries about falling. Or perhaps you think that exercising simply isn’t for you?

As you grow older, an active lifestyle becomes more important than ever to your health. Getting moving can help boost your energy, maintain your independence, protect your heart, and manage symptoms of illness or pain as well as your weight. Regular exercise is also good for your mind, mood, and memory. No matter your age or your current physical condition, read on for simple, enjoyable ways to become more active and improve your health and outlook.

The Physical Health Benefits

As metabolism naturally slows with age, maintaining a healthy weight can be a challenge. Exercise helps increase metabolism and builds muscle mass, helping to burn more calories, helping you to maintain or lose weight.

Reduce the Impact of Illness and Chronic Disease

People who exercise tend to have improved immune and digestive functioning, better blood pressure and bone density, and a lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, obesity, heart disease, osteoporosis, and certain cancers.

Enhances mobility, flexibility, and balance

Exercise improves your strength, flexibility and posture, which in turn will help with balance, co-ordination, and reducing the risk of falls. Strength training also helps alleviate the symptoms of chronic conditions such as arthritis.

Mental Health Benefits

Exercise improves sleep and quality sleep is vital for your overall health. Regular activity can help you fall asleep more quickly, sleep more deeply, and wake feeling more energetic and refreshed.

Exercise is a huge stress reliever and the endorphins produced can actually help reduce feelings of sadness, depression, or anxiety. Being active and feeling strong naturally helps you feel more self-confident. Boost your mood and self confidence.

It does amazing things for the brain! Activities like Sudoku or crossword puzzles can help keep your brain active, but little comes close to the beneficial effects of exercise on the brain. It can help brain functions as diverse as multitasking and creativity and can help prevent memory loss, cognitive decline, and dementia. Getting active may even help slow the progression of brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease

What if you Hate to Exercise?

If you dread working out, you’re not alone. But you don’t have to exercise until you’re soaked in sweat or every muscle aches to make a big difference to your health. Think about activities that you enjoy and how you can incorporate them into an exercise routine:

  • Listen to music or an audiobook while lifting weights
  • Window shopping while walking laps of the shopping centre.
  • Get competitive while playing tennis.
  • Take photographs on a nature hike.
  • Meet new people at a yoga class or fitness centre
  • Watch a favourite movie or TV show while on the treadmill or marching on the spot.
  • Instead of chatting with a friend over coffee, chat while walking, stretching, or strength training.
  • Walk the golf course with a friend who golfs.
  • Walk or play fetch with a dog. If you don’t own a dog, offer to take a neighbours dog for a walk or volunteer at a pet shelter or rescue group.
  • Go for a run, walk, or cycle when you’re feeling stressed—see how much better you feel afterwards.
  • Find an exercise buddy, someone whose company you really enjoy, and try activities you’ve never tried before—you may find something you love. At worst you’ve spent time with a good friend.

What Sort of Exercise Should You Do and How Will you Benefit?

1: Balance

What it is: Maintains standing and stability, whether you’re stationary or moving around. Try yoga, Tai Chi, and posture exercises to gain confidence with balance.

Why it’s good for you: Improves balance, posture, and quality of your walking. Also reduces risk of falling and fear of falls.

2: Cardio

What it is: Uses large muscle groups in rhythmic motions over a period of time. Cardio workouts get your heart pumping and you may even feel a little short of breath. Includes walking, stair climbing, swimming, hiking, cycling, rowing, tennis, and dancing.

Why it’s good for you: Helps lessen fatigue and shortness of breath. Promotes independence by improving endurance for daily activities such as walking, house cleaning, and errands.

3: Strength and Power Training

What it is: Builds up muscle with repetitive motion using weight or external resistance from body weight, machines, free weights, or elastic bands. Power training is often strength training done at a faster speed to increase power and reaction times.

Why it’s good for you: Strength training helps prevent loss of bone mass, builds muscle, and improves balance—both important in staying active and avoiding falls. Power training can improve your speed while crossing the street, for example, or prevent falls by enabling you to react quickly if you start to trip or lose balance. Building strength and power will help you stay independent and make day-to-day activities easier such as opening a jar, getting in and out of a car, and lifting objects.

4: Flexibility

What it is: Challenges the ability of your body’s joints to move freely through a full range of motion. This can be done through stationary stretches and stretches that involve movement to keep your muscles and joints supple and less prone to injury. Yoga is an excellent means of improving flexibility.

Why it’s good for you: Helps your body stay flexible and increases your range of movement for ordinary physical activities such as looking behind while driving, tying your shoes, shampooing your hair, and playing with your grandchildren.

Speak to our Older Adult Fitness Specialist Lisa Wright for advice or book a session to kick start your fitness

 

Mandy

About Mandy