As older adults, we hear it all the time—exercise, exercise, exercise. But is it really that big of a deal if we don’t get the recommended amount of exercise each week? Well, we’re here to say that, indeed, staying active and physically fit is one of the most important things you can do to live a long, healthy, and happy life. When we hear it over and over again, sometimes it’s easy to forget why getting routine exercise is so important. Here are the reasons why your doctor demands that you get active.
- It Prevents Heart Disease – The number one reason why older adults need to exercise is because it prevents the leading cause of death in America, heart disease. Exercise gets your heart rate up and strengthens it while also helping to control blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar. When you have these things under control, you’ll be much less likely to experience heart attack, stroke, and other fatal cardiovascular episodes. Interestingly, research shows that exercise even helps the heart’s arteries dilate easier and helps manage your sympathetic nervous system, which controls heart rate and blood pressure.
- It Keeps Extra Weight Off – Exercising burns calories and aids in regulating blood sugar, which will help you lose weight and keep it off. And, while we still don’t know all the ways carrying a few extra pounds can affect us, there is research indicating that it’s one of the worst things for our health and well-being as we age. Being overweight or obese can seriously increase and exacerbate health risks in seniors, as it’s linked to type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, cancer, sleep apnea, osteoarthritis, fatty liver disease, kidney disease, and more.
- It Lowers Blood Pressure – High blood pressure (hypertension) leads to heart disease because it puts extra strain on the heart and blood vessels, but there are more negative ways it impacts your body. In fact, the Mayo Clinic says that high blood pressure can cause serious damage to the brain, including dementia, transient ischemic attack (TIA), stroke, and cognitive impairment. It also has a worrying effect on the kidneys, eyes, and sexual organs.
- It Strengthens Your Muscles – While cardiovascular activity is good for the heart, you also need to incorporate strength training and stretching into your complete fitness routine for full-body health. Stronger muscles scaffold the entire body, helping to mitigate back pain, keep your spine straight, and support your hips and knees. If you have chronic back pain, incorporating strength-building into your routine may seem like a challenge. We recommend using a laser light therapy belt to temporarily relieve and relax muscles after a strenuous workout.
- It Protects Your Bones – Did you know that working out can improve bone health? Yep! In fact, bones are similar to muscles in that they respond to exercise by becoming stronger. Keeping your bones strong into old age can help prevent injury while improving coordination and flexibility. But exercise is both good and bad for the bones and joints, so you need to make sure you’re doing the right kinds for your age and body. Low-intensity activities such as swimming can help build muscle and condition the heart without stressing the joints.
- It Makes You Happy – Who can deny the pure, natural joy of runner’s high? The chemicals released during a good workout session are second-to-none, and there are few other ways you can get such a guilt-free thrill! Working out makes you happy because it releases endorphins that reduce your perception of pain and makes you feel happy, but it also just feels good because you know you’re doing something great for yourself and your health!
- It Encourages Socialization – Working out doesn’t have to be a solo activity and, in fact, it’s actually better when done with others. Exercising in a group is an awesome way to stay accountable and connect with others. Some of the best ways to do this are through fitness classes and clubs, such as hiking or running clubs. One of the most overlooked ways to enhance physical and mental health is spending time with friends and family. Being around others can make you feel happy, confident, loved, and self-assured, which is important to good health.
- It Boosts Your Energy – There’s no denying it: We get more tired as we get older, so anything we can do to ward off fatigue and feel more energetic is worth a try. Exercise is one of the best ways to improve energy levels because it delivers essential oxygen and nutrients to the tissues, helping the heart and lungs work more efficiently and giving the whole body a big-time boost of oomph.
9. It Helps You Sleep – Yep, exercise does it all—boosts energy and improves sleep. The truth is that, by the time you’re ready for bed, the body will be more tired and ready for deep sleep when you’ve spent a portion of your day working out. Like diet and exercise, sleep is a crucial pillar of good health in older adults, as it helps reduce fatigue, stress, depression, and anxiety. And, of course, poor sleep has been linked with serious health issues such as heart disease, obesity, and diabetes.
You probably already know why working out is essential, but sometimes it’s nice to have a reminder and remember exactly why we do what we do. At the end of the day, if you log some quality fitness time, you will undoubtedly see for yourself why it matters so much! The reward comes in the form of a longer, more enjoyable life!