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Keep Doing This As You Get Older

It's something that's just so important.

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Woman walking with Labrador Retriever
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Aging is often associated with physical and mental decline, but that doesn’t have to be the case. Regular physical activity is a cornerstone of healthy aging — it can improve cardiovascular health, reduce the effects of perimenopause, and help us maintain independence. Recognizing the added benefits of physical activity may give us the boost we need to get out there and move it!

Improved Circulation

Susan Toth, a wound nurse at Tri-City Medical Center in San Diego, says poor circulation and frailty due to a sedentary lifestyle can slow wound healing. “If the muscles are weak, then blood tends to pool in the legs, making it more difficult for wounds to heal.” Toth also notes, “The earlier in life that we start to do regular physical activity, the more we can prevent health problems later in life.” Her exercise regimen includes walking her dog every morning and night. In addition, she runs once or twice a week and uses weights to build muscle strength in the evenings. “Every motion makes a difference.”

Minimized Effects of Perimenopause

If that’s not enough motivation, exercise and physical activity can also lessen perimenopause symptoms. Who doesn’t want to reduce hot flashes and build bone density? Dr. Stacy Sims, an expert on women’s exercise science, recently spoke on the ZOE Science and Nutrition Podcast, describing how specific exercises can reduce the symptoms of perimenopause. She says we must first “learn how to move well.” Examples include how to squat correctly and perform deadlifts without injuring ourselves. She recommends adding loads — picking up a bag of groceries or lifting weights. The most important thing is to “lift heavy,” that is, to keep lifting until it’s challenging. She recommends incorporating resistance training into your daily routine. This doesn’t necessarily mean going to the gym. We can lift weights at home or do pull-ups at a local playground.

Maintain Independence

As we age, our main enemy is frailty. It doesn’t take much to slip from living an independent lifestyle to needing full-time care. By engaging in regular physical activity, we prepare ourselves to live independently in the future. We must be able to put a suitcase in an overhead bin, push trash cans to the curb or carry groceries from the car. These tasks require agility. If we start in a stronger condition, we can care for ourselves longer. Strong bones and better circulation will make it easier to get up if we fall. Even this scenario is something we can prepare for. A simple exercise I like is lying on the floor with my arms crossed over my chest and practicing getting up without using my hands. Doing this now, while we still have good mobility, will help should we fall in the future. Many household chores can also become exercise, whether washing the windows or folding laundry. Instead of dreading those activities, embrace them as part of our training for independent living.

How to Get Started

It’s never too late to add regular physical activity to our daily routines. Think about activities you enjoy or have wanted to try, such as walking, bike riding or swimming. Maybe you want to get into pickleball, bowling or even curling. Check your local community center for classes. If you have been leading a sedentary lifestyle, water aerobics or walking around a track at the local high school are great ways to get started. There is also the social aspect of physical activity. Walking and talking or taking a class with a friend makes the experience less of a chore. Try just one of these this week, and you will be on your way to discovering the joy and fulfillment that comes from staying active.

What are some of your favorite ways to move it? Let us know in the comments!

Follow Article Topics: Health