Posted on May 20, 2014
As we grow older, exercise becomes even more important for both our body and our mind. Whether it's a brisk walk, some time in the pool or some other activity, getting your body moving is something everyone should put at the top of their "To Do" list everyday!
Here are ways that exercise can benefit you that you may not even have considered in the past!
-- Exercise releases endorphins, making you feel happy and more positive about yourself. In a number of studies, researchers have found that regular exercise programs are as effective as prescription medicines in fighting off depression and mood disorders in some patients.
-- Boosting your metabolism and your mood helps relieve tension and stress. Along with making you happier, lessening the stress factor is good for your heart too!
-- You'll be more confident when you know you're making a healthy effort towards a new, improved you.
-- You'll raise your pain threshold. Exercise can make you sore sometimes. At first, you may be really sore and contemplate stopping your program. However, as your body adjusts, the soreness will fade away.
-- You create more brain cells and connections when you exercise. Your brain actually grows at a faster rate, becoming more powerful and expanding your capacity for learning.
-- Sticking to an exercise routine will help you develop a great sense of discipline, dedication, determination and adherence. These skills carry over to have a positive effect in all areas of your life as well.
-- Exercise can boost your concentration and mental awareness.
5 Myths about Exercise and Aging
Myth 1: There’s no point to exercising. I’m going to get old anyway. Fact: Exercise and strength training helps you look and feel younger and stay active longer. Regular physical activity lowers your risk for a variety of conditions, including Alzheimer’s and dementia, heart disease, diabetes, colon cancer, high blood pressure, and obesity.
Myth 2: Older people shouldn’t exercise. They should save their strength and rest. Fact: Research shows that a sedentary lifestyle is unhealthy for adults over 50. Inactivity often causes older adults to lose the ability to do things on their own and can lead to more hospitalizations, doctor visits, and use of medicines for illnesses.
Myth 3: Exercise puts me at risk of falling down. Fact: Regular exercise, by building strength and stamina, prevents loss of bone mass and improves balance, actually reducing your risk of falling.
Myth 4: It’s too late. I’m already too old to start exercising. Fact: You’re never too old to exercise! If you’ve never exercised before, or it’s been a while, start with light walking and other gentle activities.
Myth 5: I’m disabled. I can’t exercise sitting down. Fact: Chair-bound people face special challenges but can lift light weights, stretch, and do chair aerobics to increase range of motion, improve muscle tone, and promote cardiovascular health.
Before you get moving, though, consider how best to be safe. Get medical clearance from your doctor before starting an exercise program, especially if you have a preexisting condition. Ask if there are any activities you should avoid. Keep in mind how your ongoing health problems affect your workouts. For example, diabetics may need to adjust the timing of medication and meal plans when setting an exercise schedule. Above all, if something feels wrong, such as sharp pain or unusual shortness of breath, simply stop. You may need to scale back or try another activity.
Start slow if you haven’t been active in a while, it can be harmful to go “all out.” Instead, build up your exercise program little by little. Try spacing workouts in ten-minute increments twice a day. Or try just one class each week. Prevent crash-and-burn fatigue by warming up, cooling down, and keeping water handy. Commit to an exercise schedule for at least 3 or 4 weeks so that it becomes habit, and force yourself to stick with it. Stay motivated by focusing on short-term goals, such as improving your mood and energy levels and reducing stress, rather than goals such as weight loss, which can take longer to achieve.
Recognize problems. Exercise should never hurt or make you feel lousy. Stop exercising immediately and call your doctor if you feel dizzy or short of breath, develop chest pain or pressure, break out in a cold sweat, or experience pain. Also stop if a joint is red, swollen, or tender to touch. Staying active is not a science. Just remember that mixing different types of exercise helps both reduce monotony and improve your overall health. The key is to find activities that you enjoy.