Modern day conveniences often keep us from being active.
We take the elevator instead of the stairs, use a sit-down mower instead of walking and pushing a traditional lawn mower or even have our groceries delivered to our front doors. As a result, a lot of us don’t get the day-to-day physical activity we need.
What does it mean to be physically active? Physical activity is defined by any movement of the body that is made by skeletal muscles and requires energy to accomplish.
Every part of the body is positively affected by exercise. Staying active can help you continue to do the things you enjoy and help you maintain independence as you age. Studies have shown that those who don’t stay physically active are more likely to experience disability at some point in their lives. Furthermore, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people who engage in several hours of activity each week are not only more likely to be physically fit, but they can have a 40% lower risk of dying early.
“Staying active can help you continue to do the things you enjoy and help you maintain independence as you age.”
Not yet convinced you need to keep moving? Here are some other great reasons why you should make daily physical activity a priority:
Pumps up metabolism
Metabolism naturally slows with age making it challenging to maintain a healthy weight. Strength training exercises increases muscle mass, raises metabolism, and helps to burn more calories. This leads to less body fat, making it easier to control weight.
Reduces risk for falls
Exercise improves muscle strength, flexibility, and posture, which in turn will improve balance and coordination, reducing the risk of falls. With better balance you can react more quickly to things around you all while keeping your muscles fit at the same time.
Exercise is good for the mind, body and soul. Studies have shown that exercise can help reduce feelings of depression, sadness, or anxiety. Being active and feeling strong will naturally help you feel more confident, sure of yourself, and increase self-esteem.
Helps you build your social network
Group exercise gives you an opportunity to meet new people and build bonds with others that share in the same interest for exercise as you. Exercising with others can help keep you accountable, interested and more active too! There are numerous exercise group classes offered throughout the area geared specifically to seniors.
Quality sleep is important for overall health. Exercise often improves sleep and may even help you fall asleep more quickly and sleep more deeply. Poor sleep doesn’t have to be an inevitable consequence of aging!
A plus for the entire body
Your entire body will benefit from daily physical activity. Exercise can improve immune and lung function, heart health and blood pressure, bone density, and digestion. People who exercise also have a lowered risk of several chronic conditions including diabetes, heart disease, obesity, osteoporosis, and certain cancers and may also help alleviate symptoms of arthritis. The National Institute on Aging suggests your exercise program focus on endurance, strength training, stretching, and balance for optimal benefits.
Keeping fit as you age
As you grow older, an active lifestyle is more important than ever. Starting or maintaining a regular exercise routine can be challenging but the rewards of keeping active are great. Think about adding more movement and activity into your everyday life, even in small ways. Exercise is the key to staying strong, energetic, and healthy as you get older. It not only can add years to your life, but life to your years.
If you have an existing medical condition, or are just starting an exercise program, be sure to speak with your doctor prior to beginning to make sure the program you choose is designed with your health and wellness in mind.
Editor’s note: Did you know that our local Senior Centers teach Tai Chi and Qigong, as well as many other Fitness and Wellness classes? To find classes near you, visit your Senior Center page.
This Health & Wellness article is brought to you by Western Connecticut Health Network.