By Leigh Carter
Ten compelling reasons why your fitness should be at the very top of your priority list.
For some seniors or baby boomers, weight loss is the main motivator for getting back into shape. Busy lifestyles and work can get in the way of proper nutrition and exercise. But the benefits of staying in shape are profound! Not only does regular physical activity improve your longevity, it also decreases your risk of cancer, improves your sex life, and provides healthier skin and more. If you are already fit or looking for a little motivation to get back into shape, review these ten reasons for regular exercise and training.
1. Reduces your dementia risk
Studies have shown that staying active can improve mind function and energy and decrease the risk of dementia. Maintaining a level of fitness and staying active can improve your cognitive function when you are elderly and potentially reduce the risk of dementia. Functional exercise training requires learning skills that are especially helpful for individuals with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
2. Decreases your osteoporosis risk
Bone health is a function of fitness and especially load-bearing workouts and training that help maintain and improve bone mass. Exercise is one of the most important things you can do to prevent osteoporosis, helping you protect yourself from falls and improving your stability. Strengthening exercises like weight-lifting, jogging, hiking, kettlebells, rowing, and plyometrics are best.
3. Improves your sex life
The Harvard School of Public Health found that just 20 minutes of regular exercise a day can improve sexual response in women. Working out not only leaves you feeling energized; it can also make you feel more desirable. Since exercise can improve health, vitality, appearance, and self-esteem, it does indeed tend to increase interest in—and capacity for—sexual activity. Just make sure your partner is on the exercise bandwagon as well! Working out with your partner has a two-fold benefit: it will allow you to spend time together and will also trigger adrenaline and other feel-good hormones to get you in the mood.
4. Prevents muscle loss
As we get older, our bodies build muscle less efficiently and we also break down muscle more quickly. We should therefore make regular exercise and a healthy diet part of healthy aging. Our level of fitness and exercise helps us build and maintain muscle mass. It also improves our metabolism, which in turn helps with strength and the completion of everyday tasks. Muscle is also one of the key factors in reducing the risk of a fall, which can be debilitating for older adults.
5. Improves digestion
Exercise helps the intestinal muscles break down food and move it through your system correctly by strengthening the abdominal muscles and minimizing sluggishness. Regular exercise can help prevent constipation. Even short, intermittent walks throughout the day can help keep things regular.
6. Reduces stress, depression and anxiety
We’ve been hearing for years that regular exercise and activity boosts your mood, but it does much more than that. Once you get motivated, exercise can make a big difference in many aspects of your life. Working out helps you to relax, makes you feel better and keeps your anxiety and depression at bay. When you exercise, neurotransmitters and endorphins that ease depression are released and you raise your body temperature, which can also help to calm your nerves.
7. Enhances mental performance and work productivity
Exercise is important for improving your overall quality of life and can be especially helpful with work. Not only does exercise improve your self-confidence, it can help you take on leadership roles. Keeping fit enables you to perform better and increases overall productivity and focus. The American College of Sports Medicine found that 65 percent of employees who participated in a regular exercise program noticed an increased ability to manage their time. They produced more and improved mental and interpersonal performance.
8. Reduces cancer risk
Several studies have confirmed that the risk of lung, colon, and breast cancers can be greatly reduced in regularly active people. In fact, a 2007 study found that exercise is an important step to preventing breast cancer because higher levels of estrogen (which is stored in fat) increase your risk. The American Association for Cancer Research reports that postmenopausal women who are physically active have also been shown to have lower levels of estrogen.
9. Helps reduce stroke severity
A study by the Bispebjerg University Hospital in Copenhagen following first-time stroke patients found that “people who exercised the most prior to their stroke were two and a half times more likely to have a milder stroke compared to those who exercised the least.”
10. Improves your skin
If looking good is a motivator for staying in shape then add healthy glowing skin to the list of benefits. Exercise enhances the blood flow to your skin and this improves the control of skin ailments. Exercise can reduce acne by controlling the production of DHEA and DHT. Sweat is also a great way to unclog pores and clean out oils and dirt from the skin.
Leigh Carter is a Level 3 Certified Master Personal Trainer. He founded Leigh Carter Training in London, England, 15 years ago and has worked with a diverse spectrum of clients, from Broadway stars, famous actors, pub landlords, and rugby professionals to grandmothers of 10. In 2014, Leigh moved to Kelowna, where he continues to offer exceptional service and results to his clients of all ages. Visit www.leighcarter.ca for more information.
*Reprint from our Seniors Health 2016/2017 Issue