You know that exercise is important. It improves your health in many ways. You instantly get a rush of feel-good chemicals. Your heart pounds, you think more clearly, and your circulation improves. But exercise isn’t about just the instant benefits. It can also do a lot to improve your health for years to come, and here’s how.
The average individual sits for about 10 hours a day. With technology allowing us to access just about everything from a screen or by using voice commands, we don’t have a reason to get up. Or do we?
Sitting around gives you more than a flat tush—it contributes to the typical health problems that people have as they get older. As people age, their bones and muscles get weaker, making it harder for them to move around. If you aren’t moving your body enough now, what will happen to your mobility as you age?
As we get older, our hearts must work harder. Our metabolism slows down. The odds seem to be stacked against us. In fact, a study conducted by the American Cancer Society found that there is a correlation between time spent sitting and mortality.
You have a higher chance of dying from heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol if you don’t get enough physical activity.
Some of the benefits that exercise delivers for your brain health happen immediately. You get a dose of mood-enhancing chemicals, you relieve stress, and you think more clearly after exercising. But, physical activity also boosts your brain health over time.
It helps to keep your judgment, learning, and problem-solving skills high as you age. Regular exercise can decrease your risk of depression and anxiety over time too. Regular exercise can also help you sleep, which is essential for a variety of brain functions, including neural communication and toxin elimination.
Heart disease is a top killer worldwide. You can reduce your risk of developing cardiovascular problems by exercising. According to the CDC, you are less likely to experience heart disease or stroke if you get at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity each week. That could be anything from taking a brisk walk around the block a couple of times a day to swimming laps or going for a jog.
You probably already know that working out makes you stronger, but the idea isn’t just to build big muscles. Exercise strengthens your joints and bones, too. Working out can help if you have arthritis or other conditions that cause joint pain, stiffness, or weakness.
It also enhances your flexibility. When moving around is easy and pain-free, you’re more likely to do it. It’s a cycle that perpetuates itself, keeping you healthy as you age.
Some older adults are worried that exercising will increase their risk of falling. Perhaps surprisingly, getting active can make you less likely to fall. Because physical activity delays the loss of bone density and improves mobility, it lowers your risk of falling and getting hurt if you do take a tumble.
If you don’t have type 2 diabetes, living a sedentary lifestyle can increase your risk of getting it. But, even just 30 minutes of aerobic exercise a day can go a long way in decreasing the risk of type 2 diabetes.
Physical activity can even reduce your risk of developing certain cancers, such as bladder, breast, colon, lung, and stomach cancers. If you’ve been unfortunate enough to be treated for existing cancer, exercise can help you improve your quality of life as you recover.
You don’t have to hit the gym to get moving. In fact, many people neglect to see the opportunities for exercise that are right in front of them. Do you park close to the gym door but spend your time on the treadmill once you head in? You could be more efficient about your movement (and spend less time consciously exercising) if you parked further away.
You’ve heard it before–take the stairs, park at the far end of the lot, walk around your neighborhood while you’re talking on the phone. You don’t have to do fancy workouts to reap the benefits. Just get moving.
Experts recommend that you get at least 30 minutes of physical activity each day. You might need to work out more than that if you have specific fitness goals or are trying to lose weight.
You should also reduce the time that you spend sitting. Some ways to do this include:
It’s easy to work out when you can do it from the comfort of your own home. Working out in your own space means that you don’t have to waste time commuting to the gym, and you don’t have to pay hefty membership fees.
If you want to live a long, fruitful, and healthy life, exercise is an excellent habit to work into your schedule. It improves your quality of life whether you’re 30 or 75. Exercise makes it easier for you to do your daily activities, and it keeps you strong, flexible, and mobile as you get older.
Some people don’t get enough moderate or intense exercise. That’s ok, though. Experts say that the total amount of activity that you get, not how long or hard you worked out, is what influences your longevity.
So make it easy for you to move by getting the equipment that you need to make it easy, whether that’s a yoga mat, walking shoes, or an exercise bike. Just get off the couch and get moving!