Exploring the benefits of being active daily
Exercise improves more than your physical health. It can also boost memory and help prevent dementia. And it can help you maintain your independence and your way of life. If you stay strong and agile as you age, you’ll be more able to keep doing the things you enjoy and less likely to need help.
What are some of the benefits of being active daily?
By meeting recommended levels of physical activity, your risk of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes is reduced by up to 50%. As well as other great benefits, such as:
- Helps maintain cognitive function
- Reduces cardiovascular risk
- Helps maintain ability to carry out daily living activities
- Improves mood and can improve self-esteem
- Reduces the risk of falls
- Improve sleep
Staying fit through exercise. But remember to enjoy yourself!
Regular physical activity can improve your quality of life in so many ways. But it’s important doing something you love to do, which helps you to stay motivated. Over exerting yourself or participating in an exercise program you don’t enjoy will make you exhausted, and likely cause you to discontinue activity.
To gain the many benefits of regular exercise, you must like what you are doing. If swimming feels great, dancing gets your excitement up or bicycling feels refreshing, then go for it, and enjoy! Only then, will you continue to exercise regularly, and only then will you see an increase in energy, weight loss, improved heart health and strong bones. Almost all types of exercise include strengthening and stretching.
Setting goals and logging achievements
Athletes, from runners to weight-lifters, have used exercise logs and goal setting to achieve success. By recording your progress toward your goals you will gain perspective and see improvements in your strength and fitness levels. This in turn will see your motivation and energy flourish.
Set a schedule first so you don’t find excuses
How do ants make an ant hill so tall? They consistently add one grain of sand at a time. It’s the little bit you do every day that will over time increase your strength and endurance. To be consistent requires taking a good look at your day and week. What days will I most likely be able to fit in exercise? What time of day would be best? The longer you are faithful to the schedule the easier it will be to stick to the exercise program.
OK, so you have a schedule and have set goals. How much should you push yourself?
A common concern is the level of exertion you should reach, especially if you haven’t exercised in a while. Strength exercises are vital to maintain your ability to function independently in your home.
If you are only using weights for a strengthening workout, start with a weight that you can perform 8 to 12 repetitions (Reps). Rest 1 minute and perform another (set) of these exercises. You should not have any pain with these exercises.
When you can comfortably perform more than 15 to 20 repetitions, you should consider increasing your weight incrementally. But don’t increase the weight too much. Slow and steady wins the race. Strengthen a minimum of twice a week. Three to 5 times per week is optimal to maintain a strong body that withstands the rigours of daily life as we grow older.
Interested in learning more about exercise – Read our next blog on Finding your correct training range as we get older.
Word of caution if you’ve been inactive for some time
- Remember that with age, sudden intense exercise may be a challenge for your heart. Try to prepare your muscles with a 10 minute warm-up before exercising.
- Monitor yourself for overexertion, which is indicated by shortness of breath, nausea, dizziness or getting that shaky feeling. Make sure you listen to your body!
- Make sure you increase your activity level gradually. Only add 5% – 10% increase to any workout. Think “posture” as much as you can during your workout. Good posture will help protect your joints and prevent any unnecessary injuries.
- Practice good breathing. Never hold your breath. Try to breathe in through the nose and out the mouth. Train.
- Remember, exercises will only show benefits if it is done regularly with the correct duration, frequency, and intensity. “Practice makes… permanent!” So don’t practice sitting on the couch!
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