Making time for physical activity has always been important. But as you age, exercise becomes even more crucial. It boosts your energy, as well as helps you maintain your independence and manage symptoms of illness and chronic conditions, according to Helpguide. No matter how nutritious your diet may be, exercising on a normal basis is key for healthy aging.
Remember: The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends older adults dedicate at least two hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity with two or more days focused on strength training exercises.
Here are six of the many health benefits of regular physical activity:
- It helps you maintain your weight
Metabolism slows down with age, often causing you to gain weight and making it more difficult to maintain a healthy one. With regular exercise, you can increase your metabolism and strengthen your muscles, which can help you burn more calories and lose excess pounds.
- It enhances mobility and balance
With age, the body naturally weakens, which often lead to loss of independence. With regular physical activity, you can strengthen your muscles, which can improve your flexibility, balance and coordination. This, in turn, can reduce your chance of falling and help you maintain your mobility.
- It improves your sleep
Do you often find yourself struggling to fall asleep at night? Don’t resort to sleep aid medication, just start exercising! According to a study by the National Sleep Foundation, people who spent 150 minutes exercising every week had a 65 percent improvement in quality of sleep. Those people also stated that they felt less tired throughout the day than those who didn’t set aside time for physical activity.
- It boosts your mood
Regular fitness doesn’t only improve you physically – it works wonders on your mental health, too. Michael Otto, Ph.D., a psychology professor at Boston University, told the American Psychological Association that physical fitness can enhance the mood almost instantly.
“The link between exercise and mood is pretty strong,” he said. “Usually within five minutes after moderate exercise you get a mood-enhancement effect.”
Working out isn’t only a stress reliever. When you start to see results from exercise over time, your confidence is likely to increase as well.
- It can prevent or delay disease
Physical activity that focuses on aerobic exercises is great for the heart, blood vessels and lungs, as it improves the breathing and heart rate, according to MedlinePlus. By keeping these vital organs healthy, you can delay or reduce your risk for certain conditions, such as breast, colon and lung cancer, as well as diabetes and heart disease.
- It strengthens your mind
Exercise doesn’t only strengthen your bones and muscles, it enhances your mind, too! No matter how you decide to exercise, you’re being creative and multitasking, which keeps the brain active and healthy. This can prevent memory loss and cognitive decline, which can also reduce one’s chance for developing dementia.