Use it or Lose it Part 2: How Physical Activity Impacts our Physical and Mental Health as we Age.
Physical health is detrimental to our well-being, especially as we age. We have all heard it before, but how exactly do we benefit from exercise and physical activity?
According to the World Health Organization, a sedentary lifestyle and it’s related diseases are one of the top ten leading causes of death and disability in the developed world. Specifically, resistance training and aerobic exercises such as weight training, yoga, Pilates, walking, hiking, jogging and use of cardio machines can have the greatest impacts, and here is why.
- Weight training, or weight-bearing exercises increase strength, bone density and mobility of the joints thus aiding in the reduction of falls, and can also reduce the risk of hip fracture by 40%. Increasing bone density also decreases the risk of fractures, and the onset and/or progression of osteoporosis and arthritis.
- By increasing blood flow to the heart via cardiovascular exercises, we strengthen the heart and the cardiovascular system and well as increase our blood flow to the brain and other major organs, and improve our overall circulation.
- Aid in the management and/or prevention of chronic diseases (cardiovascular, diabetes, arthritis, etc.).
- Regular physical activity helps improve cognitive function and may combat the onset or progression of dementia by increasing oxygen and blood flow to the brain.
- Exercise also increases endorphins and other feel good hormones which can help reduce the symptoms of depression and anxiety.
- Regular physical activity also improves a person’s sense of independence and purpose by creating a feeling of community and socialization with others who may also be partaking in classes or groups (i.e. something to look forward to). Also, regular physical activity may allow a person to feel more independent to perform activities of daily living due to increased physical ability. A person’s mindset and feelings towards independence can truly have a great impact on their overall mental health.
These two incredibly important aspects of active aging and quality of life can make a world of a difference on a person’s overall health and wellbeing. From the physical impacts to the impacts of mental health and socialization, exercise can be a great tool in a person’s wellness toolbox.
As always, it is very important to consult your physician before beginning any exercise regime and to also keep open lines of communication with your class instructors in regards to injuries, illness, and past medical history.
Now lets move!
Written By: Rebecca