Do you feel sluggish when you have been sitting for a long period of time or it is difficult for you to sit on the floor, and stand up again? These problems may be due to aging.
Aches, pains and other health issues arise as we get older, most of these are linked to inactive lifestyle. Sometimes these issues will make you feel older than what you are. Reshaping your fitness goals will enhance your day-to-day functions and your confidence.
You may feel like you are ‘too old to start exercising now’. Most assume that there is no point in getting started in your 50s or even later. However, the fact is “It’s not how old you are, it’s how much you move matters.”.
If you have been exercising regularly from a very young age, continuing this habit throughout your life will improve your overall health.
Why is exercise important as we age?
As we age, we enter menopause – a natural part of aging that marks the end of reproductive years of a woman. In this phase, you will undergo various transitions and hormonal changes.
Certain dietary changes can bring about positive changes in your health, but regular exercise is equally important as you age. Regular physical activity can help with at least 90% of the symptoms of menopause. According to various studies, physical activity offers a myriad of benefits – maintains healthy weight, helps maintain cognitive function (thinking, learning, and judgment), etc.
Let’s take a closer look at the benefits of exercise for women as we age:
- Prevents weight gain: As metabolism naturally slows with age most women tend to lose muscle mass and gain abdominal fat. The hormonal changes during menopause also contribute to weight gain. Exercising regularly will increase the metabolism, build muscle mass, and burn more calories.
- Strengthens your bones: Aging is usually associated with reduced bone mineral density. The decrease of bone strength can cause an increased risk of fracture and osteoporosis in menopausal women. Exercise can slow bone loss after menopause and thus protect your bones from fractures and osteoporosis.
- Boosts mood: During menopause, low levels of estrogen will make you feel stressed, tired and overwhelmed. Exercise is a major stress reliever as it releases endorphins, also known as feel-good hormones, which has a positive effect on mood. Studies showed that physically active adults have a lower risk of depression and cognitive decline.
- Relieves joint stiffness: Stiff joints are a common problem as we age. The amount of synovial fluid, a lubricating liquid that allows the joints to move freely, declines with age. Exercise aids in the production of synovial fluid and will improve your strength, flexibility and posture. This in turn will help with balance, coordination, and reducing the risk of falls.
- Improves memory: Deterioration in memory and confusion are normal part of ageing. Lot of research suggests that exercise keeps you mentally agile. Regular exercising increases the supply of oxygen to your brain cells and helps you process information and respond quickly.
- Reduces risk of other diseases: Weight gain during menopause can have serious health issues, as excess weight will increase the risk of heart disease and type II diabetes. Regular exercise can help you counter these risks.
Finding the right exercise for you
Not all exercises are right for you. The choice of exercise depends on your existing health condition. If you are a beginner, seek advice from a healthcare professional. Always start with 10-15 minutes of activity per day and gradually increase the intensity and duration.
However, a woman’s aging body will benefit from three major types of activity:
- Aerobic/cardiovascular exercises: They are also called endurance exercises. During aerobic exercise, your heart rate and breathing will increase, thereby improve heart health. This in turn increases the metabolism and helps in burning calories. Walking, jogging and swimming are all examples of aerobic exercise.
- Stretching exercises: They help improve or maintain muscle flexibility and will reduce the risk of injury to the muscles or joints. Yoga is a popular type of stretching exercise.
- Strength training exercises: These are for muscles, bones and metabolism. Dumbbells, weight machines, exercise tubing are the common strength training exercises. Good weight training for women over 50 helps slow down bone loss and can reverse the loss of muscle mass.
In addition to the above exercises, certain recreational activities such as tennis, zumba, cycling can provide muscle and bone-building benefits and can be fun at the same time.
Make your workout fun
Here are some tips that you can incorporate into an exercise routine that will help you to enjoy your exercise:
- Find an exercise buddy, someone whose company you really enjoy
- Listen to music or an audiobook while walking
- Choose activities that you enjoy
- Get competitive while playing tennis or badminton
- Go for a run, walk, or cycle when you’re feeling stressed
- Exercise in a calming environment
Exercise can help you turn around your health at any age. The next step is to figure out what activities you enjoy and will help you over long term. Remember, you are never “too old” to start your fitness journey.
- Exercise as you get older. https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/exercise-as-you-get-older/ . Accessed on: 22-09-2020.
- Benefits of being physically active. https://www.acefitness.org/education-and-resources/lifestyle/blog/7567/you-re-never-too-old-to-start-enjoying-the-benefits-of-being-physically-active/ . Accessed on: 22-09-2020.
- Fitness tips for menopause: why fitness counts. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/womens-health/in-depth/fitness-tips-for-menopause/art-20044602. Accessed on: 22-09-2020.
- Best exercises for women over 50. https://gwrymca.org/blog/best-exercises-women-over-50. Accessed on: 22-09-2020.
- Senior exercise and fitness tips. https://www.helpguide.org/articles/healthy-living/exercise-and-fitness-as-you-age.htm. Accessed on: 22-09-2020.
- Bone health: exercise is a key component. https://www.menopause.org/for-women/menopauseflashes/bone-health-and-heart-health/bone-health-exercise-is-a-key-component. Accessed on: 22-09-2020.
- How exercise can help you age well. https://www.besthealthmag.ca/best-you/fitness/how-exercise-can-help-you-age-well/ . Accessed on: 22-09-2020.