Getting older is inevitable, but that doesn’t mean you have to feel older! Regular exercise (at least 30 minutes of exercise, 5 days per week) is one of the best ways to slow the aging process. Physical activity can improve mobility and cognitive health, and reduce your chance of developing chronic diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes. Research continues to prove that exercise is one of the best anti-aging treatments. In honor of Healthy Aging Month, let’s explore some scientifically-sound reasons for you to get moving this Fall.
Reason #1: Exercise Keeps Your Mind Sharp
Many of us worry about keeping our minds healthy as we age. Fortunately, a large body of research shows that regular aerobic exercise is associated with a reduced risk for age-related cognitive decline, including dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Studies even show that physical activity can increase the cognitive function of those already suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. A recent study, published in the Scandinavian Journal of Caring Sciences, discovered that just four months of daily exercise (including walking) sharpened the mental function of Alzheimer’s patients.
Reason #2: Exercise Keeps Your Bones and Joints Healthy
It’s no secret that aging impacts your bones and joints, but exercise can help you stay active and mobile. Two of the most common degenerative conditions are osteoarthritis (breakdown of the cartilage that cushions joints) and osteoporosis (weakening of the bones). Research shows that a combination of aerobic, strength, and flexibility training can help support joints, reduce chronic pain, and improve energy levels in those with osteoarthritis. Additionally, regular weight-bearing exercise (such as weightlifting, hiking, and walking) can help build and maintain strong bones in osteoporosis sufferers. Even if you don’t suffer from these conditions, being physically active can reduce aches and pains and help you perform daily activities with ease!
Please note: If you’re suffering from bone or joint conditions please consult with your doctor before engaging in physical activity.
Reason #3: Exercise Reduces Your Risk of Fractures and Falls
Falling is one of the greatest dangers to older adults. The loss of strength, balance, flexibility, and bone density associated with aging can cause debilitating injuries. Thankfully, exercise can play a vital role in preventing falls and fractures. Weight-bearing activities (such as tennis, stair climbing, and jogging) can improve the strength and density of bones, reducing your risk of fracture. Regular strength training and mind/body activities such as Tai Chi, yoga, and Pilates can strengthen your muscles and core, improving balance and daily function. A study published in the Journal of Physical Therapy Science showed that participation in an 8-week fitness program increased the balance and function of adults over the age of 75. It’s never too late to help prevent injury!
Reason #4: Exercise Reduces Your Risk for Chronic Diseases & Death
According to the Centers for Disease Control, 120 to 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week can help reduce your risk for developing a number of chronic diseases, including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, and even some cancers. Even better, exercise can help control the symptoms of these chronic diseases. For example, regular exercise may improve cardiovascular risk factors and aid in blood glucose control. Best of all, regular exercise can increase your lifespan. A 2011 study published in The Lancet found that individuals who exercised at least 15 minutes per day were 14% less likely to die than their sedentary peers. Clearly, exercise is one of the best forms of medicine!
Remember, VHP is here to help you feel younger and more energetic. Register for one of our live fitness classes, peruse our media library, or send a question to one of our Virtual Fitness Specialists. We want to help you experience the ultimate anti-aging treatment.