It is known that the most powerful thing a person can do to combat the effects of aging is to exercise. The increase of blood flow, muscle and bone growth, “good feeling” brain chemicals, and changes to your chromosomes all come from getting off the couch and getting active!
Here are a few reasons why you should exercise well into those “Golden Years”:
Your ability to move is the number one indicator for morbidity, or quality of life, while aging. Exercising regularly has been proven to help you age well but also live longer. By doing regular exercise, our life span on average is increased by 5 years.
A US study showed that if a person can stand, cross their feet, go down to the floor in a “scissor” style squat and get up again unassisted, that person has a longer life span than a person that needs to use one hand to get up, even better than a person that needs to use two hands, and much better than a person who can’t perform the exercise at all. The same correlation occurs when measuring balance. Good balance equals a longer lifespan.
2. Trauma and Fractures
Active seniors also live longer when they exercise because their risk of falls decreases dramatically. A fractured hip carries a 25 % mortality rate for most seniors! This means there’s a 1 in 4 chance of dying within a year of breaking your hip. Exercise helps with balance, strength, and endurance, all of which help with fall prevention. It also helps to keep the bones strong and less likely to break in the case of a trauma. Mineralization of the bones occurs more with strength training but any forms of activity such as walking, gardening, or yard work all keep your bones healthy.
3. Chromosomal changes
Our cells are constantly replicating and with this process comes shortening of an area at the end of the chromosome, called the telomere area. The length of the telomere can be directly correlated to lifespan and along with proper sleep, diet, and stress reduction, exercise helps maintain these areas. Exercise helps replenish the molecules that protect the telomere area and essentially slows down aging at the cellular level!
4. Risk of Age-Related Cancers
Most types of cancer risk increases with age, but can be drastically reduced with exercise. According to the National Cancer Institute, by simply getting active 15 minutes a day, you can reduce your risk of colon cancer by 25-50%! You can also reduce your risk of breast cancer by 12% or endometrial cancer by 20%.
Get up and get active at least 3 times a week for a minimum of 20 minutes. Often my senior population at the office are worried about the unknown of exercise or the intimidation of going to a gym or having to purchase equipment. But exercise includes simple activities such as: walking, gardening, house work, dancing, yoga, and Pilates. Simply get moving and prosper!
Activity Fact: People with active lifestyles have a 20% overall less mortality rate then people who live sedentary lifestyles.