8 reasons to exercise as you age

Staying physically active and exercising regularly can produce long-term health benefits and even improve health for some older people who already have diseases and disabilities. 

Like most people, you've probably heard that physical activity and exercise are good for you. In fact, being physically active on a regular basis is one of the healthiest things you can do for yourself. Studies have shown that exercise provides many health benefits and that older adults can gain a lot by staying physically active. Even moderate exercise and physical activity can improve the health of people who are frail or who have diseases that accompany aging.

Starting or maintaining a regular exercise routine can be a challenge as you get older. You may feel discouraged by illness, ongoing health problems, or concerns about injuries or falls. Or, if you've never exercised before, you may not know where to begin. Or perhaps you think you're too old or frail, or that exercise is boring or simply not for you.

While these may seem like good reasons to slow down and take it easy as you age, they're actually even better reasons to get moving. We've mentioned some good reasons why old people should start moving and now we're bringing you more in order to make you realize that, no matter your age or your current physical condition, you can benefit from exercise in many ways: 

1. Exercise is linked with dramatic heart benefits in old adults: In a study published by the journal circulation, researchers found that older adults who walked faster than 3 miles per hour had a 50 percent lower risk of heart disease than those who walked at a pace slower than 2 miles per hour and those who walked an average of seven blocks daily had a 47 percent lower risk of heart attacks or stroke than those who were more sedentary. Finally, leisure activities, including gardening, swimming, hiking and biking, were also associated with a lower risk of heart disease.

2. Exercise helps you preserve your bones and joints: According to Dr. Sundeep Khosla, director of the aging bone, muscle and joint program within the Mayo Clinic's kogod center on aging: "Physical activity is important for loading the bones and helping them develop as strong as they can”. Taking care of what you eat is also important and doing balance and core-strength exercises such as yoga and Tai Chi reduce your risk of falls and resulting fractures, which can delay aging conspiracy to chip away your bone and joint health.

3. Exercise helps keep our brains young: Recent study found that in terms of attention and rapid decision-making, brains of active old people worked like those of much younger people. Also, they were quicker and more accurate in their keystrokes, indicating that they attended and responded better than the less-fit volunteers. This is important since now it’s possible to know that daily mild exercise such as walking and mild jogging may affect the way the brain works, so that an older person’s brain acts like a younger brain.

4. Exercise helps prevent or delay diseases: Scientists have found that staying physically active and exercising regularly can help prevent or delay many diseases and disabilities. In some cases, exercise is an effective treatment for many chronic conditions. For example, studies show that people with arthritis, heart disease, or diabetes benefit from regular exercise. Exercise also helps people with high blood pressure, balance problems, or difficulty walking.

5. Exercise helps you manage stress and mprove your mood: Regular, moderate physical activity can help manage stress and improve your mood. And, being active on a regular basis may help reduce feelings of depression. Studies also suggest that exercise can improve or maintain some aspects of cognitive function, such as your ability to shift quickly between tasks, plan an activity, and ignore irrelevant information.

6. Exercise improves your sleep. Poor sleep is not an inevitable consequence of aging and quality sleep is important for your overall health. Exercise often improves sleep, helping you fall asleep more quickly and sleep more deeply.

7. Exercise helps older adults maintain or lose weight. As metabolism naturally slows with age, maintaining a healthy weight is a challenge. Exercise helps increase metabolism and builds muscle mass, helping to burn more calories. When your body reaches a healthy weight, your overall wellness will improve.

8.Exercise and gastrointestinal function: Light and moderate exercise is well tolerated and can benefit patients with inflammatory bowel disease and liver disease. Physical activity can also improve gastric emptying and lower the relative risk of colon cancer in most populations.

Aging is inevitable, but it has an undeservedly fearsome reputation. No man can stop the clock, but most can slow its tick and enjoy life as they age with grace and vigor. Jonathan Swift was right when he said, “Every man desires to live long, but no man would be old.” Regular exercise, along with a good diet, good medical care, good genes, and a bit of luck, can make it happen.

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