How many times have you stopped and asked yourself, where has the time gone? It’s true, time is passing and as we age, exercise becomes equally, if not more important for our overall health and well-being. You may be noticing that weight doesn’t come off as easily as it once did and you tend to get a little more unstable then you once were – it’s inevitable, right? Wrong. The answer to turning back the hands of time is exercise. As you all probably know, exercise helps us to improve or maintain our aerobic endurance and muscular strength – this is not new or exciting news. But did you know that maintaining or beginning an exercise program can improve your bone health, prevent or delay disease, keep you in good spirits, and minimize falls?
First and foremost, exercise helps to prevent or delay the onset or progression of various diseases. Heart disease, which is the number one cause of death among men and women, is largely preventable through the modification of behavior. As you may or may not know, some of the major risk factors for heart disease include a sedentary lifestyle, obesity, hypertension, tobacco use, dyslipidemia (cholesterol abnormalities), and prediabetes. By moving from sedentary to active, you can improve body composition and therefore combat the harmful effects of obesity, lower your blood pressure, improve your cholesterol profile, and improve insulin sensitivity which will reduce your risk for developing diabetes.
It doesn’t stop with heart disease. Exercise can also improve joint health, thus minimizing the risk for arthritis. To reduce the risk of developing arthritis it is important to participate in a well-rounded exercise program, complete with aerobic activity, strengthening exercises, and stretching. In addition to preventing arthritis, exercise helps to limit the risk of osteoporosis as well. It may be counterintuitive, but high-impact, weight-bearing exercise helps to build strong bones. Likewise, body weight exercises, lifting weights, and other strengthening exercises also aid in building and maintaining strong bones.
Last but certainly not least, incorporating balance training into your exercise routine is essential. Millions of older adults fall each year and all too often, those falls lead to tragic consequences. Balance exercises should be performed 2 to 3 days per week for 20 to 30 minutes. To avoid making your exercise routine too lengthy, balance activities can be easily incorporated into your resistance training and/or stretching routine. Yoga, Pilates, and tai chi are all great ways to improve balance, stability, flexibility, and strength.
By remaining as active as possible, you will be able to move into old age in better physical and mental health. Take a step and see how exercise impacts your daily mood and improves your activities of daily life – you won’t regret it!