“Motivation is a tough nut to crack.” -Jack LaLanne
Being physically inactive is considered a real health threat that leads to premature disability or even death. They even have a name for it “Sedentary Death Syndrome”. Studies show that those who don’t exercise at all have the highest risk of premature death. 😟 The CDC reported that 16% of premature US deaths annually are from poor diet and lack of exercise. Lack of exercise is an official cause of death. Hmm. Seems like that could be an easy fix if only we were motivated.
The National Institute of Aging determined that what was thought to be symptoms of aging are really symptoms of disuse. Unless you are willing to make the time to invest in your aging, the more likely you will have to deal with illness down the road.
There are at least 35 conditions that are made worse when people are not active. These include
- high blood pressure
- heart disease
- gallstones (gallstones, really?)
- sleep apnea
- risk for certain cancers like colon and breast cancer
- metabolic syndrome
- lower back pain
- sarcopenia – muscle wasting, which starts in your 30’s and 40’s
- insulin resistance
- deep vein thrombosis
- among others
Injury/pain is the #1 reason people stop being active. You shouldn’t stop training, you should train differently.
The health of sedentary people declines twice as fast as their active peers as they age. Your body wants to move! Start before you feel poorly. It takes more energy/work to fix something than to keep it in good condition to begin with. The same goes for your health!
What are the benefits of being active?
- improves cognitive function- exercising gives better blood flow to the brain
- improves focus
- reduced risk of cardiovascular disease
- strengthen heart
- improves mood- stimulates brain chemicals
- reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression
- weight control
- reduces joint stiffness
- strengthens bones
- improves flexibility and balance
- reduces stress
- improved immune system
- helps your body use up some damaging sugar
- reduce risk of breast cancer and colon cancer
- helps manage symptoms of menopause
- boosts energy
- improves sleep
- and more
How much exercise is enough? A minimum of 30 minutes and up to 60 minutes of moderate exercise a day. The more intensity, the greater the benefit. You only have to move half as much if you do intense activity compared to moderate. Mix it up.
Types of exercise that are important for maintaining health and independence are as follows:
- Aerobic/Cardio – Anything that gets you breathing harder and your heart beating faster. 5-6 days a week, moderate activity (you should break a sweat, be able to talk but not sing) 150 minutes/week, or vigorous activity (be able to talk in short bursts) 75 minute/week. This one gives me the most trouble. I really don’t like to sweat. My husband and I do walk daily at a brisk pace everyday though, when it’s not too hot….. or too cold… give me a break. When we don’t walk I have 30 minute DVD’s I like to use – something fun like kickboxing and such.
- Strengthening– You should work all muscle groups and in order to be beneficial, it should be done to the point where it is difficult to continue. 2-3 days a week, not consecutively. Not consecutive days is important. This is so your muscles can recover/repair. I became a little enthusiastic last winter strength training everyday and ended up suffering from tendonitis in my elbow and shoulder. 😩 But I didn’t stop moving, I just moved differently.
- Balance– Helps prevent falls. Couple of days a week. This you can work in with other activities. For example, yoga involves flexibility and balance. Kickboxing also requires some balance.
- Flexibility– Stretches muscles and gives more freedom of movement. Keeps muscles and tendons from shortening and prevents injury. Should be done everyday and after physical activity. I often forget to stretch on days when I don’t exercise, but I need to remember to do it.
- Posture– Not an exercise. Just seeing if your paying attention. However you should practice good posture. Check it often. Gives organs proper space. Gives more energy and fewer pains.
If you can’t scrape together 30 minutes for activity, then do 10 minutes 3x. If you don’t normally exercise, start slow and build up to beneficial levels. Remember, everyone’s fitness level is different. What might be moderate for you may be vigorous for someone less fit, or the other way around. If you find it boring, get your friend/husband/wife to be active with you. We are more likely to stick to something if we have an accountability partner.
Of course, always check with your doctor before starting an exercise program especially if you have any health conditions. Remember to warm up and stretch afterward to prevent injury.
Do you get regular physical activity? What type of activity do you enjoy doing?
What could you do better?
“The Lord is my strength and my shield.” Psalm 28:7
Fitness After 40 by Vonda Wright, MD
How Not to be My Patient by Edward Creagan, MD
Age Defying Fitness by Marilyn Moffet. PT, Ph.D, FAPTA
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