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Move, move, move! Tips to stay healthy as you age

If you read nothing else, just know that as a person over 40, taking the stairs instead of the elevators along with other physical activities of daily living can make a HUGE difference compared to people who move less.

How much should I exercise?

According to the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, adults can gain substantial health benefits with just:

  • 5 hours (150 minutes) moderate aerobic activity per week. That’s just 21 minutes each day of the week or 50 minutes of activity 3 days a week.
  • Or, just 1.25 hours (75 minutes) of vigorous aerobic activity per week.That’s just 10 minutes each day of the week or just 25 minutes 3 days a week.

Physical activity should be at least 10 minutes at a time.

Types of exercise

In today’s society, many of us are confined to smaller offices, homes and constantly in front of a screen or a TV. Although this can be unavoidable in an ultra-connected world, it is up to you to make time to do a small activity that gets your heart rate up, get a good sweat going and improve blood circulation.

Examples of moderate aerobic activities:

  • Brisk walking at 3mph or faster
  • Biking slower than 10mph
  • Tennis doubles
  • General gardening
  • Dancing

 

Stay motivated!

The trick to getting fit is baby steps and making it fun. You don’t have to run a marathon overnight! Just find an activity that you enjoy doing, stop thinking of it as a chore, and make it habitual. The long-term effect will be profound if you make a small commitment. Another trick is to do it with friends or a like-minded group. The camaraderie and support will motivate you and help keep you disciplined within a dedicated group.

Even Albert Einstein, perhaps the most important academic of all time who spent the bulk of his time at a desk insisted to take at least a 30min walk every day and was an avid sailor. So if the man who revolutionized theoretical physics can get out for a walk, you really don’t have an excuse! As Einstein knew, the benefits of a simple walk can be profound when it becomes a habit. It releases endorphins making you feel happier and helps with mental clarity in thought.

Physiological benefits of exercise

Planned exercise is even more important and the more you move, the better your fitness will be and the better you will preserve your body functions and keep diseases away. If older people exercise and eat better, they will see a domino effect on their health as it can take them off medications they are currently on and see less side-effects improving their overall health.

Older individuals who exercise frequently, can stave off some of the effects of aging like losing muscle mass and decreased aerobic fitness. Middle-aged exercisers (Let’s say aged 40 and above) have been seen to benefit from better glucose concentrations, lower waist-to-hip ratios and even lipid profiles similar to young adults compared to their sedentary counterparts!

Make sure to eat a balanced diet

In the 21st century, humans are guilty of overusing Earth’s resources and in the US people eat about 1300 more calories than we actually need, so we could all do with slowing down intake and eating healthier choices. People typically underestimate what their caloric intake is, and overestimate how much exercise they do! Track your food consumption and get out there; move, move move!

Don’t skip breakfast

Another hack which we refer to in our “Intermittent fasting” article is NOT skipping breakfast! People who eat breakfast expend 15,000 calories more per year than those who don’t because digestion and absorption need a lot of energy. By skipping breakfast your body slows the metabolism down and tells itself “I don’t know when they’re going to eat next so I better protect them and hold on to the fat stores more” which goes against what most people are trying to do with weight loss goals.

Prioritize getting a good night’s rest

Sleep is another major factor in your overall health as an inadequate sleep duration in the general population has been associated with a myriad of negative health effects including neurocognitive, metabolic, immunologic and cardiovascular dysfunction. People who are sleep-deprived may have impaired brain function which can affect judgment and/or decision-making during athletic performance.

Positives of deep, restful sleep

From a metabolic standpoint, sleep deprivation has been associated with obesity and diabetes. Sleep-deprived individuals may crave unhealthy foods and show impairments in glucose sensitivity, which may impair glycogen repletion and potentially affect appetite, food intake, and protein synthesis.

When sleep scientist Matt Walker researched people who got more than 8 hours of deep sleep daily, they showed brain waves that improve memory and slow down the aging process. Disruption of deep sleep is an underappreciated factor that is contributing to cognitive decline, and also increased likelihood of Alzheimer’s disease according to the most recent studies.

In a nutshell, exercise leads to longer life

A regular exercise routine is scientifically proven to have a multitude of positive effects on your overall health, stave off disease risks and prolong your life expectancy. Furthermore, aerobic exercise can improve key brain functions which improve quality of life as one ages. So mom, dad, please ditch the armchair reading and TV watching and get out there! Go for a walk and appreciate the beauty of Nature. In conclusion, Good sleep, balanced diet and consistent exercise are the cornerstones of overall health and wellness and the secret to living longer and reducing risks of disease.

The Hands of Hope team wishes you all a long, healthy life and reminds you to get out there, sweat it out and move, move, move!

References:

  • Rosenbloom and Bahns, Holist Nurs Pract. 2008; 20(4):161-166
  • 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
  • Technology Entertainment Design (TED), Ted conferences LLC
    The disruptive power of exercise Dr. Wendy Suzuki TEDxACDD
    Jan 22 2016
  • Physical recovery, mental detachment and sleep as predictors of injury and mental energy.
    Yannick A Balk, Jan de Jonge, Wido GM Oerlemans, Sabine AE Geurts
    Journal of Health Psychology
    Volume: 24 issue: 13, page(s): 1828-1838
    Article first published online: May 3, 2017; Issue published: November 1, 2019
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