Want to feel like you did in your younger days? Then try the handy hints and tips listed below.
It is super important to ensure you get enough exercise, as, as we get older, we went to want to move less as our joints start to hurt and stiffen up. It has been shown that almost 23% of adults between 18 and 44 are sedentary and for those 65 and older, it is around 32%.
It is commonly known that if we do not use our bones and joints enough, then they begin to weaken. Another side effect of not moving enough is that it also damages our heart and brain. Consequently, it also increases your chances of developing dementia and heart disease along with other health conditions which can lead to you have an early death.
Kevin Bohnsack, MD, a family medicine physician at Saint Joseph Mercy Health System in Ann Arbor, Michigan says “You really need to think about ways to keep moving. Everything that increases you overall activity can ward off that sedentary lifestyle”. This is a piece of information that everyone should try and remember. Even if it is simply going for a walk for 20 minutes per day to stretch your legs, everything counts!
As we get older, our heart begins to gradually weaken – especially in our middle ages. The walls of our heart begin to get thicker and become less flexible, and our arteries become stiffer. As a result of this, it is increasing the risk of getting high blood pressure and other heart related problems such a heart attack and heart failure. The risk becomes even higher the more you become sedentary.
When we exercise our hearts beat faster, increasing our blood flow and supplying our bodies with the necessary oxygen that we need to be able to function. So, the more we work out, the stronger our hearts get and the more elastic our blood vessels become, helping to maintain lower blood pressure and decreasing your chances of developing cardiovascular problems.
Research has found that consistent, long term moderate or vigorous cardio training may be the most beneficial to us all, however, again, as repeated above, any form of physical activity promotes good heart health. Dr Bohnsack says, “it can be anything from running to biking to rowing. Anything that builds up that heart rate.”
Getting in shape and becoming fitter also benefits our hearts in more than one way. Exercise is associated with reduction in inflammation, increase in HDL and LDL and maintaining a healthy weight and staving off obesity. One study was published in March 2018 in the journal circulation, 28 middle aged men completed two years of high intensity exercise training. Compared to a control group, scientists found the exercise reduced their cardiac stiffness and increased their bodies capacity for oxygen use – both of which may slash the risk of heart failure. Another study was published in the August 2018 issue of the Journal of the American Heart Association, researchers gave heartrate and movement sensors to 1600 British volunteers between the ages of 60 and 64. After 5 days, they found that more active people had fewer indicators of heart disease in their blood.
It is a common thought that what’s good for the heart is good for the mind. Well research has put this thought in to practise and it has been shown that taking part in regular exercise, not only benefits the heart but also boosts brain health.
Exercise is linked to improving cognition – including better memory, attention and executive function for example controlling emotions and completing tasks. It can also increase your processing speed and the way you react to information combined with your capacity to draw from past knowledge and experiences.
Being active as possible is also linked to slow age-related cognitive decline, where we gradually lose our thinking, focus and memory skills. Bohnsack says, “In other words, if you like where you are, it’s a good idea to continue to exercise because that may at least help you retain your current cognitive function.”
In 2017 a review in the Journals of Gerontology: Biological Sciences found that activity was associated with a lower risk of Alzheimer’s down the line. The link was strongest for people who purposely exercised in their spare time, rather than those who had physically active jobs suggesting mental benefits may depend on your chosen activity, in addition to the time you put in.
So, we have talked about exercise a lot, but how does it help you really? It is thought that working out improves blood flow and oxygen delivery to the brain, helping it to function better. Some research has indicated it prevents shrinkage of the hippocampus – the part of the brain which is needed for learning and remembering things. Experts are of the opinion that it stimulates the chemical activity in the brain contributing to better cognition.
You may be wondering at what point you should start to begin for this to benefit you. Well, the answer is now! It does not matter your age; exercise benefits us all. “There is evidence suggesting that doing more vigorous exercise earlier in life is more beneficial,” says Bohnsack, “but it’s never too late to start because everyone benefits from doing some sort of movement of physical activity.”
As well as benefiting our heart and brain, working out also:
- Boosts your mood and energy
- Helps prevent injuries
- Lowers your risk of other diseases associated with aging, like arthritis
- Helps you remain independent
The government recommends that adults should either do 150 minutes plus of moderate intensity exercise of 75 minutes of high intensity aerobic activity weekly. Why not try including things like walking, biking, swimming, bowling, gardening and dancing – this are good options for those who are a little older and do not fancy join a gym.
As well as aerobic exercise, your regime should also include some strength training, along with balance and flexibility moves. These types of exercise can help you keep mobile and reduce injuries – especially from falls, which are often catastrophic for older people’s health.
It is advised that before you start any new forms of strenuous exercise, you check with your local GP to ensure this is safe, particularly if you have chronic conditions such as heart disease. Bohnsack says, “Taking steps during the day to do physical activities can be just as beneficial as if you joined a gym.”
Remember, everything counts. On days you feel like you cannot be bothered to move, think about the effect it is having on your brain and overall health.