Healthy aging: the benefits of staying physically active
We usually associate the aging process with a gradual decrease in strength, mobility and flexibility. Our joints become stiffer, our bones become more brittle and it becomes harder to enjoy the activities we once enjoyed. In the worst case scenario we lose our ability to do everyday activities without assistance from others. But growing older doesn’t have to be like this. A consistent exercise routine can keep you healthy, fit and independent later in life.
Benefits of Exercise
Maintaining Your Independence
The biggest fear about getting older is the risk that one day we may no longer be able to take care of ourselves without help from others. However, regular exercise can help prevent this or at least delay it occurring.
We begin to lose muscle mass and strength as we age. Our cardiovascular and respiratory function also decreases. Inactivity makes all this worse, leading to frailty and weakness. However, regular strength training can help maintain your muscle mass, strength and coordination, allowing you to stay independent for longer.
Preventing Weight Related Illnesses
As we age it becomes harder to maintain a healthy weight. This is another reason why exercise is so important to help burn fat and stay well. It can help prevent or manage many weight related illness such as heart disease, diabetes, and blood pressure.
Decrease the Risk of Falls, Fractures and Bone Related Conditions
Weight bearing exercises will help increase bone density which reduces our susceptibility to fractures or bone related conditions such as osteoporosis. A recent study found that regular exercise decreased the risk of a hip fracture by 38-45%. Exercise can also help improve coordination which lowers our risk of suffering a fall or fracture in the first place.
Examples of weight bearing exercises that can have a positive effect include resistance training, walking, jogging, dancing or tennis.
Increased Flexibility and Mobility
Exercise that involves stretching and balancing can help increase your flexibility. It elongates the muscle and brings movement back to stiff and rigid joints. In turn, this leads to better mobility, decreased risk of injury and increased ability to undertake normal tasks (in other words, no need to struggle or call for help when tying your shoelaces).
What type of exercise is best?
For the best results, your workout routine should include a mixture of aerobic exercise and resistance training. Aerobic exercise includes activities that increase your heart rate, like walking, cycling, swimming or tennis. Resistance training involves using your own body weight or resistance equipment (like resistance bands or dumbbells) to strengthen your muscles.
If you’re still unsure where to start, you could try our Over 60’s Program at North Adelaide Fitness Centre. On the program you will have an experienced trainer guide you through getting started in a friendly and social environment. It can also include the Lift for Life program for anyone at risk of a chronic condition, such as Type 2 Diabetes. For more information on the program, call (08) 8344 7187 or speak to our team at our front desk.