As you age it becomes increasingly important to incorporate regular physical activity into life for the overall health of your body and mind. There are endless benefits to physical activity which should be considered as you get older. Exercise helps to improve the overall quality of life and increases life expectancy, which is reason enough to mix it into your routine. Physical activity also aids in the prevention of disease and chronic conditions and –if completed on a consistent basis– can improve brain functionality. Each of these reasons, along with the countless other benefits to exercising should encourage the integration of movement and activity into your daily routine.
Improved quality of life and increased life expectancy
As we age, our muscle mass and strength begin to decline. Muscle strength and mobility are necessary for overall bone strength and balance. The gradual deterioration of our bodies leads to increased mobility issues and encourages people to become reliant on others to complete daily activities. To improve the quality of our lives and increase life expectancy exercise and general movement can be practiced on a regular schedule. The benefits of this can also work to reduce depression and anxiety and maintain independence.
Reduces depression and anxiety
Daily exercise and movement can help to improve both physical and mental well-being. Exercise has the ability to drastically improve mood and can alleviate symptoms of depression. The simple action of getting outside each morning has the power to change your entire day. Exercising can take your mind off the stresses of everyday life and releases endorphins that work to enhance your sense of well-being. It also helps to grow levels of self-confidence through meeting goals or taking on challenges related to physical activity.
Many people feel like they are required to dedicate multiple hours each day to exercise in order to improve their mental state and reduce negative emotions, however 10-15 minutes each day is enough to help you feel good about yourself. Its important to start small so as to not overwhelm yourself with the daunting task of exercise. Trying to take on more than you can handle is a common reason people give up on exercise. 15 minutes each day is easy to find and as you turn those 15 minutes into a routine, you’re body will crave more activity and you can begin to increase the duration of exercise you dedicate to your life.
Daily movement also has the power to help individuals to maintain their independence. Independence in this case is the ability to perform regular daily activities without the help from others. Exercising on a regular basis helps to build muscle and maintain agility which allows people to continue participating in their day-to-day activities independently without relying on the strength of others. Preventing injuries from occurring is important for indiividuals seeking to maintain independence. Injuries can lead to the loss of regular functionality on a daily basis and its important to exercise to gain balance to prevent injuries from occurring. Falling is among the top injuries that occur to seniors and has the potential to lead to broken bones which significantly reduces functionality, movement and quality of life. Exercise and building strength have the ability to prevent or decrease the chance of a fall. Exercise also improves balance and stability, reducing the likelihood of falling and losing independence.
Living an inactive life can cause mobility issues, increase muscle loss and joint pain and increase the risk of injury. As individuals become less independent with day-to-day activities, their quality of life begins to decline.
Prevention of disease or chronic conditions
Regular, consistent movement has the ability to prevent or delay the risk of certain diseases such as diabetes, heart diseases and strokes to name a few.
Exercising increases the circulation and blood flow in your body and allows oxygen levels to rise which helps to keep blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride levels low reducing the risk of heart disease and nerve damage. Regular physical activity can also help to reduce pain of asthma, back pain, arthritis and many other illnesses and diseases. For example a consistent activity can reduce the frequency and severity of asthma attacks, improve muscle functionality for affected joints while reducing stiffness.
Lack of physical activity is one of the four main risk factors that lead to chronic diseases. Exercising can also delay the progression of chronic diseases for those that currently have them.
Improved brain functionality
Exercising does not only improve your physical abilities and strength; it also helps improve your brain and mental functionality. We’re not just talking about brain puzzles and cognitive exercises (which are also very important); we’re talking about real physical exercise here.
As you’re exercising, your heart rate increases which in turn increases your blood flow and exposes your brain to a greater volume of oxygen and nutrients. Simply ensuring your brain is getting more oxygen is enough to help your brain’s functionality in some way or another and is another reason to incorporate an exercise routine into your daily life.
How to exercise
If exercise is not already a component to your daily routine, that is okay! You don’t need to be intimidated by elaborate routines, heavy equipment or comprehensive training programs. The important thing here is that you incorporate a little movement into your daily life. There are no rules here, but consistency is key. In order to get the benefits of physical activity, regular consistent movement is needed. This can be as simple as walking to get your mail every day, participating in online yoga class, going for a swim in the lake or playing with grandkids.
It is never too late to start engaging in and participating in a regular and consistent exercise routine. Developing daily movement as a habit has the potential to transform lives and greatly increase quality of life for many individuals.