The most recent statistics reveal the average life expectancy in the U.S. is now a little over 78 years. That’s up from 68 in 1950.
The bad news? About 41% of adults 60 and over struggle with obesity. Obesity leads to heart disease, diabetes, and a decreased life span.
Diet and exercise are both essential when it comes to fighting weight gain. But did you know that exercise helps you do more than live longer?
Exercise actually slows the aging process. As you age, exercise is crucial. Read on for the top 10 reasons why exercise is important as you age.
1. Slows Aging at the Chromosomal Level
Telomeres are structures of short DNA sequences that live at the end of your chromosomes. Though more research is needed, there’s evidence that long telomeres indicate decreased aging.
We’re born with a fixed number of base pairs of telomeres. As we age, our telomeres shorten and then die through the process of apoptosis.
Oxidative stress hastens the process.
How do you keep your telomeres long? You guessed it — increased exercise! Physical activity shows potential in having restorative and protective effects on telomere length.
2. Increase Your Levels of HGH
Have you ever heard of human growth hormone (HGH)? It’s abundant in the body when we’re young. As we age, HGH levels fall.
Children deficient in HGH are sometimes prescribed HGH injections. Many professional athletes have been suspended due to their use of illegal injectable HGH.
Why do they risk suspension? Because HGH increases lean muscle mass and helps with weight reduction.
But there’s a catch.
HGH injections are risky for healthy people who don’t need them. In studies, HGH recipients have high rates of negative side effects.
We want high levels of HGH in the body but we don’t want bad side effects. Exercise is one of the best ways of increasing HGH in your body. And there are no negative side effects.
3. Increase Your Endorphins
Exercise also increases the endorphin levels in your body. Endorphins are natural mood elevators. Regular exercise releases endorphins which reduce depression.
Exercise can make you happy!
If you exercise with others, it’s even better. If you’re exercising in a group, you’re releasing endorphins and socializing. Both things help us age in a healthy way.
4. Maintain and Increase Mobility
Maintaining mobility and flexibility are also important as we age. You must actively exercise and stretch your muscles as you age or you’ll lose range of motion.
A good range of motion coupled with flexibility prevents falls. Falling often leads to fractures. Your potential for dying doubles after a hip fracture if you’re 65 or older.
Even everyday activities are difficult when your range of motion isn’t good.
As you lose range of motion in one area, your body compensates in another. This results in a loss of balance.
What types of exercise work best for maintaining flexibility? Yoga and pilates. Water aerobics is another exercise that helps with flexibility, endurance, and strength.
Tai Chi is an ancient form of low-impact exercise that improves flexibility and strength while reducing stress. It’s a slower form of martial art.
5. Improve Bone Density
Want to improve your bone density and avoid osteopenia and osteoporosis? Try weight lifting.
One of the reasons so many seniors break bones when falling is osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis is a degenerative disease in which the bones become porous and brittle. This makes them more prone to fractures. Weight-bearing exercise improves bone mass.
The stronger your bones, the less likely they’ll break if you fall.
6. Weight Maintenance and Reduction
It’s no secret that weight loss is harder to achieve and maintain as we age. Although a good diet is key to weight loss, exercise is also crucial.
Exercise fires up your metabolism helping you burn more calories, even when you’re sedentary.
Weight lifting is a big help with weight reduction. Why? Because it builds muscle mass.
Muscles burn calories faster than fat. The more muscle you have, the more calories you’re burning.
If you opt for a weight program, don’t overdo it. Weight lifting breaks down the fibers in your muscles. It sounds bad but it’s a good thing.
As the muscle repairs itself, it builds stronger muscles. So leave a day between workouts or work different muscles each day.
7. Increase Lung Capacity
Exercise increases lung capacity. This helps when you’re walking up stairs or cleaning the house.
If you’ve lost lung function from a disease like COPD, you can’t bring lung function back. But you can increase oxygen capacity. This helps reduce breathlessness and increase endurance.
Aerobic exercise is best. Try walking, water aerobics, or swimming. There are so many good exercises for older adults.
8. Better Cardiovascular Strength
The lungs, heart, and cardiovascular system all work together when you’re exercising. Aerobic exercise like running or swimming improves endurance.
Exercise strengthens the heart and reduces blood pressure. This helps improve your endurance as well as energy levels.
9. Reduce Cognitive Decline
Regular exercise delivers increased oxygen to the brain. It also eliminates waste from the organs and muscles.
Removing unnecessary waste products from the brain improves brain processing and memory.
10. Improved Sleep
Many seniors don’t sleep well. As we age, it’s often hard to fall asleep and stay asleep. Instead of resorting to drugs, why not try a regular exercise habit?
Exercise helps people fall asleep better and stay asleep longer. But if sleep is an issue for you, don’t exercise within four hours of going to bed.
The Top Reasons Why Exercise Is Important for Aging Bodies
These are some of the many reasons why exercise is important, especially as we age.
Do you want to slow down the aging process? Then exercise! Exercise positively affects your body at the cellular level which slows aging.
Exercise increases HGH and endorphins which makes you look and feel better. You’ll maintain and even increase your mobility and flexibility which prevents falls.
And if you do fall, your bones are stronger so you’ll avoid fractures. From weight reduction to increased lung capacity, isn’t it time you started an exercise program?
Love learning about the best ways to stay young and healthy? Keep reading the health section on our blog!