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Healthy Aging Part 3

The Benefits of Exercise and Body Movement

Why am I using exercise and body movement you ask?

For some the word “exercise” feels like work, and when you are sick, tired, stressed or just not in the mood, moving your body feels less like work! Perhaps it is just going for a walk, putting on music and stretching on your living room floor, or moving and dancing to music while you are cooking or doing another house hold chore. The movement matters whether it is serious concerted effort or just getting from a stationary posture to moving.

Here are the top 5 benefits to exercise.

  1. Energy
  2. Mood
  3. Sleep
  4. Weight loss
  5. Prevent and manage chronic disease

Let’s look at each individual benefit and why regular exercise matters.

Energy: exercise and movement “gets your blood moving” it creates a healthier cardiovascular system, delivering more oxygen to your brain and body bringing with it much need nutrients for repair and regeneration. At the same time the circulation is moving and removing toxins ready for elimination. The shear magnitude of functional changes that occur when you move your body are mind boggling, but suffice it to say it is as important as the oxygen you breathe and the nutrients you eat.

Mood: Science shows that increased circulation and oxygen to the brain improves mood, provides a better sense of self image, and confidence. Exercise affects brain chemistry both directly and indirectly by stimulating endorphins (your happy hormones), along with GABA and Serotonin, this in turn can reduces both anxiety and depression.

Sleep: I am sure you notice on the days you are more active you rest better. Exercise increases endorphin, and yes again GABA and Serotonin production this in turn impacts the brain chemistry that promotes restful sleep.

Weight loss: We all know that exercise and healthy eating are vital components to healthy weight management by preventing weight gain or weight loss. Body movement helps balance blood sugar, triggers the mechanism in the body for burning fat, and when combined with conscious caloric intake can allow us to burn more calories than we consume. The more muscle mass we have the more calories we burn in exercise which is why weight lifting or resistance bands can be an important part of your program.

Exercise Myths

  • Exercise needs to be done an hour a day.
  • I have health conditions and I am afraid to start exercise.
  • I am already to tired, I can’t handle being more tired.

Just adding a little movement to your life can:

  • Reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes
  • Improve joint stability
  • Help maintain flexibility as you age
  • Maintain bone mass
  • Prevent osteoporosis and fractures
  • Reduce stress
  • Improve memory

Creating a healthy lifestyle doesn’t have to mean drastic changes. In fact, drastic changes almost always lead to failure. Making small changes in how you live each day can lead to big rewards, so figure out what you can do to be healthy today.

Regular trips to the gym are great, but don’t worry if you can’t find a large chunk of time to exercise every day. Any amount of activity is better than none at all. To reap the benefits of exercise, just get more active throughout your day — take the stairs instead of the elevator or rev up your household chores. Consistency is key.

Combat health conditions and diseases: Worried about heart disease? Hoping to prevent high blood pressure? No matter what your current weight is, being active boosts high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, the “good” cholesterol, and it decreases unhealthy triglycerides. This one-two punch keeps your blood flowing smoothly, which decreases your risk of cardiovascular diseases.

Regular exercise helps prevent or manage many health problems and concerns, including:

  • Stroke
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • High blood pressure
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Many types of cancer
  • Arthritis
  • Falls
  • It can also help improve cognitive function and helps lower the risk of death from all causes.

A few final thoughts on exercise

Though I did not list this in the health benefits, it most certainly is an important aspect of our physical and emotional health.

Exercise puts the spark back into your sex life

Do you feel too tired or too out of shape to enjoy physical intimacy? Regular physical activity can improve energy levels and increase your confidence about your physical appearance, which may boost your sex life.

But there’s even more to it than that. Regular physical activity may enhance arousal for women. And men who exercise regularly are less likely to have problems with erectile dysfunction than are men who don’t exercise.

Finally, Exercise can be fun … and social!

Exercise and physical activity can be enjoyable. They give you a chance to unwind, enjoy the outdoors or simply engage in activities that make you happy. Physical activity can also help you connect with family or friends in a fun social setting.

So take a dance class, hit the hiking trails or join a soccer team. Find a physical activity you enjoy, and just do it. Bored? Try something new, or do something with friends or family.

The bottom line on exercise

Exercise and physical activity are great ways to feel better, boost your health and have fun. For most healthy adults, the Department of Health and Human Services recommends:

At least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes a week of vigorous aerobic activity, or a combination of moderate and vigorous activity. The guidelines suggest that you spread this exercise throughout the week. Examples include running, walking or swimming. Even small amounts of physical activity are helpful, and accumulated activity throughout the day adds up to provide health benefits.

Strength training exercises for all major muscle groups at least two times a week. Examples include lifting free weights, using weight machines or doing body-weight training.

Spread your activities throughout the week. If you want to lose weight, meet specific fitness goals or get even more benefits, you may need to ramp up your moderate aerobic activity to 300 minutes or more a week.

We are all getting older every day. Exercise is a way to participate in “healthy aging”

Remember to check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program, especially if you have any concerns about your fitness, haven’t exercised for a long time, have chronic health problems, such as heart disease, diabetes or arthritis.