Who doesn’t want to live a long and healthy life?
As medical technology and knowledge improves, people are living longer than ever.
However, with age comes an increased risk of certain diseases.
The four major ones which can come with increased age include:
- Heart disease
- Type 2 diabetes
- Lung disease
However, this doesn’t mean that everyone who lives a long life will be faced with one or more of these conditions, and there are steps one can take to help guard against their development.
Today we’ll have a look at how staying active as you get older can help protect against developing these major health issues.
What Counts As Physical Activity And How Much Do I Need
Physical activity can be put into two major categories.
Cardio – or aerobic – activity includes walking and running, biking, dancing, and even doing yard work.
It gets your heart pumping and increases your breathing rate.
Strength training helps keeps your muscles strong and can include using free weights or bodyweight exercises, such as squats, crunches, or push-ups.
The best strength exercises incorporate all your major muscle groups.
The recommendation is for adults to get a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate intensity cardio activity each week and to perform strength activities at least two days per week.
If you have a condition which could impact your ability to exercise safely, be sure to discuss any exercise plans you wish to undertake with your doctor.
What Do We Know About Physical Activity And Disease?
A 2002 report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services notes a number of statistics related to health and physical activity, including:
- One study in which fourteen percent of deaths in the US were linked to activity and diet
- Twenty three percent of deaths from major chronic diseases were connected to a sedentary lifestyle
- As many as ninety five percent of all diabetes cases are type 2, which is linked to a sedentary lifestyle and being overweight
Despite these statistics, many people don’t get enough physical activity, putting themselves at risk for chronic health conditions throughout life.
Overall, physically active people tend to outlive those who don’t maintain an active lifestyle.
Stay Active And “The Big Four”
There are numerous ways which staying active into older adulthood can help guard against the “Big Four” health issues (cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and lung disease).
Firstly, engaging in regular physical activity is an important factor in maintaining a healthy weight.
Although the reasons why someone could become overweight are complex and involve a number of factors, a sedentary lifestyle often plays a role.
Maintaining a healthy weight is an important factor in helping prevent health issues.
For example, weight management can lower the risk of developing diabetes by managing sugar and insulin levels
In addition, in overweight individuals, the heart needs to work harder to pump blood to the body, which can increase the risk of developing high blood pressure, or hypertension.
Other ways exercise can help promote better health include:
- It lowers the risk of developing cancer
- Lessens the chance of having a stroke
- Has benefits for cognitive function
- Reduces depression symptoms
- Lowers mortality rates
- Improves sexual health
- Assists in maintaining a healthy weight
- Promotes strong and healthy bones and muscles
- Increases mobility
- Helps to reduce the risk of falls for older adults
- Increases longevity
- May help with quitting smoking
Tips For Staying Active
If you want to become active or find more ways to incorporate physical activity into your day, here are some tips to help you get started.
Firstly, start slowly – especially if you haven’t been very active up to this point.
Ramping things up too quickly, or trying to do too much too quickly can lead to injuries which will set you back even further.
If you’re unsure about getting started, speak to your doctor or health professional first.
Next, get a support system.
Let your friends and family know about your fitness goals, and find ways to exercise together.
For example, next time you want to catch up with a friend, rather than going out for dinner, try going for a walk instead – it benefits both of you and doesn’t cost anything.
Find ways to get a little bit of extra activity into your day.
If you are able to walk to run errands, then do so – if it’s a little too far to walk, then park further away, or get off the bus a stop or two early, and take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator where possible.
Figure out when you have the most energy – some people love exercising first thing in the morning, others prefer to wait until later in the day; either way you’ll get more from your workouts if you find the time of day which suits you best.
Schedule it – if you schedule something, you’ll be less likely to skip doing it; a platform like FitIn offers a variety of virtual and in-person classes to choose from, such as a private group yoga class.
“Doing activities with friends or in groups is one of my top recommendations for people looking to figure out how to keep active,” says FitIn founder Catherine Chan.
“You forget that it’s exercise, you won’t feel like it’s a chore, because you’ll be having fun with your friends. Some activities work better for this than others, but soon you’ll find yourself looking forward to that Pilates class, because it will be an opportunity to socialize first and foremost.”
Taking on a new exercise program can be intimidating but staying active is one of the best things you can do for your overall health now, and as you age.
So what are you waiting for? Get moving today!