The importance of staying active as you age is constantly reinforced by doctors and other medical professionals – for good reason. 30 minutes of daily physical activity is associated with vastly increased longevity and better personal health outcomes, and getting active earlier in life increases the chances that you will stay active as you age.
Unfortunately, many older adults still don’t get their necessary daily physical activity requirements. In fact, only 21% of all adults meet the criteria set forth in the 2008 physical activity guidelines.
This number only decreases over time, as old age is often when the results of years of inactivity, stress, and other health problems begin to appear and can lower the ability of aging persons to exert themselves physically.
So, obviously, it’s important to stay active as you age, and to take your recommended physical activity guidelines seriously. To prove it, we’ve put together 3 of the top reasons why you should stay physically active as you age.
- You Can Maintain A Healthy Mind – And Stave Off Alzheimer’s
A healthy amount of physical activity can help increase blood flow to the brain, and physical activity is being studied as a way to help reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and some other form of dementia.
Staying active also helps maintain a healthy mental state. Physical conditions like obesity, poor muscle tone, and a general lethargy that is caused by lengthy bouts of inactivity can be very harmful to your mood, outlook on life, and overall mental well-being.
Activities like running, cycling, swimming, and other simple cardiovascular-strengthening exercises have been shown to reduce the effects of anxiety and depression, and help boost your mood, but any activity which involves some physical exertion can have the same effects – not just high-intensity exercise.
- Reduce Age-Induced Muscle Loss And Bone Density Loss
As you age, your muscles decrease in size, efficiency, and strength. This is called sarcopenia, and the rate of muscle loss can be up to 3-5% each decade after the age of 30.
Sarcopenia is also one of the primary reasons that aging people tend to suffer from falls – muscle loss speeds up at about 65, and increases the older you get. As you get older and your muscles get weak, you may not be able to balance as easily, or correct for a fall that you would otherwise have been able to avoid.
Bone density also tends to lessen with age, and muscle loss and bone density can easily exacerbate each other, and lead to premature frailty.
While both bone density loss and muscle loss are unavoidable to some degree, staying active from a young age – or resuming physical activity as you age – can help minimize muscle loss and help you maintain stronger bones, allowing you to maintain a healthier, stronger body for a much longer period of time.
- You Can Stay Busy – And Have Fun!
Retirement and old age don’t have to mean just puttering around the house, whiling away the day by doing housework or watching TV. Retirement is a stage of life just like any other – and you deserve to keep yourself busy and have fun doing it.
When you stay active, you increase your ability to perform basic physical tasks – but you can also open up your world to new possibilities, and try new activities like go mountain biking, swimming, and hiking – activities that would have never been possible for you to do if you just sat around the house all day.
Every time you go out and stay active, you increase your ability to enjoy other hobbies – so get out there, stay busy, and have fun!
There’s a saying in the physical wellness community, especially when it comes to older adults who have been physically inactive for long periods of time.
“The best time to start was ten years ago. The second-best time is today.”
There’s wisdom in that – no matter your level of physical fitness or ability, you can always improve it. And it’s best to start as soon as possible so that you can continue to enjoy all that life has to offer. So get out there, get moving, and enjoy all the benefits that an active lifestyle has to offer.