Exercise – Part of the balance
Exercise and fitness can mean very different things to people no matter what age, so we need to be thoughtful about how to approach this subject. While some people think nothing of a regular hour-long high-intensity workout, others may get exhausted just thinking about taking the stairs. The good news is that there are many forms of exercise, with levels of difficulty and varying starting points that are all good for health and wellbeing.
The general benefits of taking regular exercise are generally accepted as being:
- improving muscular and cardio respiratory fitness
- improving bone health and strength
- reducing the risk of high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, stroke, diabetes and even some cancers
- helping to manage weight and reducing risk of becoming obese
As we age, the importance of exercise and the benefits that it can bring are phenomenal. As well as helping to slow down the ageing process, as already mentioned in the Health intro, exercise can also bring many other benefits in the form of improved circulation, better sleep, improved immune system, improved metabolism, more energy etc. These are just the visible benefits! Depending on how and with whom you choose to exercise, there may also be other benefits in terms of improved sense of well-being, social interaction, coordination, cognitive powers and so on.
Types of Exercise
There are numerous forms of exercise but for the purpose of this article and the focus on ageing, I’ll break these down into cardio-vascular (cardio), strength and flexibility & balance. These are all important for our bodies and different components should be combined for optimal impact.
Cardio exercise can help our hearts and improve our metabolic rate. It includes running, cycling and swimming, but also can also include walking, gardening and dancing which may be more appealing to some.
Strength training exercises help build muscle mass and bone density, both key as we can lose 5% of muscle mass each decade after age 30 and women can lose up to 20% of their skeletal strength 5-7 years post menopause. Strength training can include weights, exercise bands and bodyweight as alternative resistance aids and don’t necessarily mean a trip to the gym.
Exercises to improve flexibility & balance are key as our joints and muscles become inflamed and tighter as we age: yoga and Pilates are popular ways to improve our flexibility.
There are also beginner and/or age-relevant versions of all of these activities, which are useful, especially if you’re starting up later in life or aren’t super-fit to begin with. The good news is that whatever age you start there are positive benefits to be gained. How you choose to exercise can also be a very personal matter: on your own at home, using DVDs, via a class – in a gym or community hall, going for a walk, swim, bike ride etc. The most important thing is to find something that you enjoy, as you are more likely to stick with it!
I’ll be working with various fitness experts during my articles to help explore some options and promote their benefits to hopefully inspire and motivate you to try something new: the key aim of getting active and reaping some of the associated health benefits.
A final cautionary note: with every exercise plan, class or DVD that I’ve ever seen there has always been health warning, so if you do have any doubts or concerns, please check with your doctor or other medical professional first.
Thank you for reading. For more interesting articles, visit my blog at www.agelifebalance.com to learn more.