Physical activity is excellent for people of all ages. Movement is in our DNA, and we need some form of physical work to maintain our health, feel good, and keep chronic diseases at bay.
Exercise becomes even more critical as we get older because it allows us to maintain a high quality of life, remain independent, and prevent various health issues.
With that in mind, let’s get into the practical importance of exercise and some recommendations you can follow.
Why Do We Need to Stay Active As We Get Older?
Staying active is vital for a couple of reasons:
First, active people more easily maintain a healthy weight, which reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, osteoarthritis, stroke, heart attack, and all-cause mortality. Folks at a healthy weight also feel better, have more confidence, and are less likely to suffer from anxiety, depression, and similar issues.
Second, active people, especially those doing some resistance training, tend to have a higher bone mineral density. Meaning, their risks of fractures tend to be smaller than for sedentary individuals.
Third, the more active we are, the less likely we are to suffer from sarcopenia––age-related muscle loss. As we get older, the risk of muscle loss increases and one of the most important things we can do is do some form of exercise. In doing so, we stress our muscles frequently, sending signals to the body to prevent excessive breakdown.
Maintaining our muscle mass is important because it allows us to remain functional and independent as we get older. Everyday tasks remain accessible, and we don’t have to burden others with taking care of us. Plus, muscle plays a vital role in metabolic health, as it improves insulin sensitivity, reducing the risk of diabetes.
Fourth, exercise plays a vital role in mental health. Active people tend to be happier, more fulfilled, and more optimistic than their sedentary counterparts. As little as a few minutes of vigorous exercise can boost your mood, making you feel better about yourself.
Practical Exercise Recommendations
According to guidelines, adults should aim for 150 minutes of moderately-intense exercise each week. That could be three sessions of 50 minutes, five sessions of 30 minutes, or even seven sessions of just over 20 minutes. Find a frequency and duration you enjoy and stick with that.
You can choose from numerous options, and you should never feel confined. There are no must-do exercises or modalities.
Some form of cardiovascular exercise and resistance training will work great for most people. For example, you can mix jogging with recreational weight training at the local gym.
Cardio training is beneficial because it strengthens your heart, improves your health, aids weight loss, and boosts your mood. Similarly, resistance exercise offers health benefits, improves endurance, and strengthens your muscles. As a result, you feel better throughout the day, everyday tasks become easier, and you’re at a much lower risk of suffering from sarcopenia.
What matters most is that you enjoy your training, look forward to upcoming workouts, and don’t feel any pain from the activities you’ve chosen.