“You’re only as young as you feel,” isn’t that the way the old saying goes? It might be more accurate, however, to say that you’re only as young as your health allows. When you see elderly people shuffling along on walkers or refusing to leave their favorite chair, you might assume that you face the same scenario in your old age. Thankfully, you can preserve your health, wellness, mobility and quality of life simply by staying as active as possible. Studies indicate that if you can keep up your health past age 70, you’re significantly more likely to continue enjoying that good health for the remainder of your life. Here are three compelling reasons to choose that walking trail, fitness class or weight-lifting routine over a sedentary lifestyle as you age.
Reason 1: Exercise Can Help Maintain Your Mobility
The American Heart Association and the American College of Sports Medicine, along with many other health organizations, agree that exercise can help you stay mobile and flexible well into your golden years. These organizations recommend that you pursue activities which challenge your range of motion for at least 10 minutes a day, at least twice a week. These activities will help your muscles and connective tissues maintain their proper length, allowing you to remain more limber and move with less discomfort. Aerobic exercises such as walking are also recommended for arthritis sufferers. If you’re starting to feel an age-related twinge in your knee or hip, regular walks can help to control inflammatory pain and optimize joint mobility.
Reason 2: An Active Heart Is a Healthy Heart
The more active a lifestyle you maintain, the healthier your heart is likely to remain. Research shows that putting in 150 minutes of exercise each week (at a sufficient intensity level to make you break a sweat) can actually slow heart aging. This level of exercise, which may be either aerobic (exercises like walking at a brisk pace or jogging) or non-aerobic (exercises like weight-lifting or sprinting) in nature, can arrest or reverse the age-related rise in blood pressure that can stiffen the heart muscle and lead to heart disease.
Reason 3: Strength Training Supports Good Posture,
Bone Health and Balance
Once you get past the age of 50, you’re at a higher risk for an age-related issue known as sarcopenia, or muscle wasting. This condition is the natural consequence of changes in hormonal balances and nutrient absorption. Unfortunately, many older people simply “go with the flow,” allowing themselves to become weaker and frailer as time passes. It’s no wonder that falls become both more frequent and more serious with age. You can help minimize this challenge to your wellness and mobility, however, by staying active in ways that challenge your muscles. Physical therapy exercises that emphasize strength training can help you build up your back muscles, promoting a taller, more natural posture. Exercises to strengthen your legs and the “core” muscles of your lower abdomen can help you center and balance your body for life.
So, as you can see, it is extremely important to stay as active as you can as you grow older. The earlier you start making healthier decisions, the longer you will be able to live a fulfilled, happy life doing what you want to do, and on your own terms. As with any major health decision, if you already have any health problems, make a visit with your doctor to discuss your new exercise routine before starting it. With your doctor’s
stamp of approval, take the first steps to the new you and keep it up to stay healthy so you can do the things that make you happy. Isn’t that what’s important?