Probably the hardest thing to do when you’re older and really need to get into shape is exercise. However, that’s what not only our aging society, but our entire society, should do by default. For example, just a hundred years ago, nobody ever dreamed of throwing clothes in a washer, walking away and 30 minutes later throwing them in a dryer. Washing clothes was a long and very physical process. While it was hard work, the scrubbing, wringing, lifting and stretching to get the laundry washed and on the clothes line helped keep that population in shape.
Increase in Longevity Lowered by Obesity
The average longevity has increased due to better medical care and availability of nutritional foods year around, but obesity is one factor that dramatically lowers it. With more and more of the population suffering from conditions caused by obesity, now sited as the number one cause of death, surpassing even smoking, exercise as a prescription for all Americans, not just the elderly, is appropriate. Exercising at least 3 times a week not only helps fight obesity, it also has other benefits to increase both longevity and quality of life.
Exercise for Chronic Illness
According to an article in the 2004 “British Journal of Sports Medicine,” exercise should be included as one of the prescriptions for those with chronic disease. The author, G.E Moore, noted that exercise benefited both cardiovascular and pulmonary rehabilitation. He suggested doctors develop exercise programs for those with chronic disease and disability, citing that cardiovascular disease is the number one killer for those with disabilities, which could be primarily from lack of exercise.
Exercise Benefits the Heart
It doesn’t take a study to realize that exercise makes you feel better. As you age, the rate of muscle wasting increases. One of the muscles, your heart, dramatically improves its ability to function with exercise. Exercise also lowers blood pressure, increases the good—HDL—cholesterol, lowers the bad—LDL—cholesterol and improves blood flow. This lowers the risk of heart disease and stroke. In addition, those participating in regular exercise programs also find it lowers their blood pressure. When you consider the cost of medication and the side effects some blood pressure medications have on the body, it seems more cost effective to invest in an elliptical exercise machine, such as the sole e35 or other type of cross training machine. Of course, this type of decision requires a discussion with your health care provider.
Exercise and Diabetes
The American Diabetes Association recommends 30 minutes of exercise five days a week. They note it’s good for the heart muscles, improves insulin effect, improves self-esteem, lowers blood pressure, improves cholesterol levels and helps lower weight or maintain weight loss. Physical fitness also lowers a person’s glycemic index. A study showed that after eating a bowl of cereal, those who were the fittest had the lowest glycemic index, those who were inactive had the highest.
Exercise Helps Memory
In his book, “Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain,” John Ratey, psychiatrist at the Harvard Medical School, noted that as little as ten minutes of exercise daily makes a difference in brain activity. It not only improves the memory and the ability to learn, it also improves your mood. First, exercise lowers stress levels and increases the brains production of beneficial chemicals such as norepinephrine, serotonin and dopamine. Exercise improves the quality of sleep, which is necessary for good brain functioning. It’s a natural antidepressant. It increases growth factors that help make new brain cells that stimulate learning. Best of all, it defends the brain against memory loss, often affecting many older Americans.
Exercise and Back Pain
If your back hurts, the natural response is to stop all exercise and take it easy. However, that may be more detrimental and add to the pain. Regular exercise can be the best medicine to reduce or eliminate back pain. It’s also beneficial to prevent it.
Another condition benefiting from regular weight bearing exercise is osteoporosis, the thinning of the bones. Three types of exercise aid in the rebuilding of bone mass and density. Weight-bearing exercise such as walking or climbing stairs helps build bone health. Resistance exercise for strength builds not only muscle but bone density, while reducing the risk of a fracture. Flexibility exercises, such as yoga, are also beneficial, but primarily to avoid the risk of injury, not to build bone.
Too Busy to Exercise?
No matter what your schedule, you can always find a few minutes each day to exercise. No matter what your age, it’s never too late to begin exercising. You can do simple changes to your daily schedule to help improve your fitness. Avoid the desire to test your parking spot mojo and park a distance from the grocery store entrance. The walk offers benefits. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Relax with a walk after work. If that’s out of the question, consider investing in a cross training machine for your home. You can use it to start your day with a burst of energy or exercise on days the weather doesn’t cooperate. As an extra benefit, once you start exercising, you’ll find you sleep better, feel happier and are more alert.
About the Author: Joel believes that exercise, in its multiple manifestations, is a great way to extend longevity and providing you have a good quality of life, he believes it is a wise decision to practice it. He recently experienced great results with a walking routine. For those who can’t or don’t want to go out for a walk, he created a site where he shares his insights as to what kind of home gym equipment fits best with your needs. Visit Joel’s site at www.topfitreviews.com.