Aging vs. Inactivity.
Currently I’m taking courses in “Senior Fitness” and “Exercise Therapy” through ISSA (International Sports Sciences Association). What struck me as being quite interesting is that we all know that physical activity is good for us, and can even rattle off some benefits if asked, yet so many people are not getting enough regular exercise.
One could say that I’m a gym rat! But I don’t mean just exercising in the gym, I’m talking about walking the dog, hiking, housework, gardening, biking or walking to work, taking the stairs, walking to the store from a parking lot space that is further away, you get the idea. As much time as Freddy and I spend in the gym, we are trying to incorporate more activity into our daily life- especially now with how much I’m sitting down doing homework and studying.
What if I told you that the effects that we associate with “normal” aging shouldn’t be so common? During these courses I’m realizing how similar those effects are to the ones of inactivity and a sedentary lifestyle. Now that we are typically living longer, shouldn’t we focus on quality of life and maintaining the independence of our older population? Why wait until we have a wake up call or until it’s too late?
Getting older doesn’t mean we have to become frail and sick. It shouldn’t mean that our cabinet looks like a fully stocked pharmacy or that assisted living is a sure thing. The stereotypical decreases in muscle and bone mass, loss of cardiovascular fitness, diminished immune and intellectual function, as well as, glucose intolerance do not have to be necessary consequences of ‘normal’ aging. Obviously disease and disability can horribly affect our health, but let us focus on things that we can control, like our exercise, eating and sleeping habits.
Here are the Top 10 Benefits of Exercise (for Older Adults, but really for everyone!) according to my textbooks:
1. Maintenance of a high level of physical & social activity increases quality of life, and enhances social satisfaction.
2. Increased independence is enjoyed when fitness & health are maintained.
3. A person has more energy & can perform daily routines with greater ease.
4. Increased muscle tone, flexibility & mobility improve balance, and decrease the likelihood of falls.
5. The more muscle mass a person maintains, the higher his or her metabolism, making it easier to control weight.
6. Calories burned through exercise allow a person to take in more nutrients (aka food!)
7. Exercise delays loss of bone mass.
8. Posture improves, decreasing backaches & enhancing appearance.
9. Cardio-respiratory function is enhanced, improving peripheral circulation, and decreasing risk of atherosclerosis, high blood pressure & other circulatory problems.
10. “Using it keeps you from losing it!”
Bonus: Exercise can also help decrease pain, as well as, assist in “ridding the body of excess fat and weight that place undue stress on the heart; retard the aging process; help to reduce fats in the blood stream,” and make the delivery of oxygen to the body more efficient. Not to mention all of the psychological benefits that come from exercise and a healthy lifestyle, such as, increased self-confidence, a stronger self-image and self-belief.
I know for me personally, exercise is a huge stress reliever and mood enhancer, with the added bonus of seeing my friends every time I head in to the gym for a workout.
It’s truly never ‘too late’ to get more physically active, and as you can see the benefits are many and well worth it!
Thanks for reading, please let me know in the comments if you have any questions or feedback!