Exercise is preventative medicine. Along with good nutrition and sleep, it is one of the best things you can do to stay hale and vibrant. Regular exercise lowers the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, stroke, heart disease, and many cancers. It also improves mood, sleep, and preserves bone mass while reducing chronic pain. And, just as important as all of those benefits, it fights functional decline that turns everyday tasks into struggles.
Use It or Lose It
We all experience physical changes as we age. But, in the truest sense of “use it or lose it,” mobility, balance, strength and endurance all fade to a greater extent if we don’t utilize them. Here are a few tips for creating lifelong vitality:
- Do some physical activity everyday to keep a habit of movement. Taking a daily walk is good, but mix in strength and mobility activities each week for more well rounded fitness. Try one of my favorite workouts: ten minutes of foam rolling and stretching followed by a 20-30 minute circuit of strength exercise two or three times per week.
- Focus on your weaknesses. If you are strong but tight, do more foam rolling and stretching. If your mobility is good but your muscles are weak, build up your strength with resistance training. Core stability exercises are always helpful.
- Do some of what you like and some of what you need. Only doing what you like will likely lead to a deficiency in another area. We all need to be reasonably flexible, strong and aerobically fit for true lifelong vitality.
Keeping a habit of exercise can be daunting. So many of us face time constraints that challenge regular exercise. I won’t claim that facing and overcoming these challenges is easy, but it is worth the effort. Identify your obstacles and develop strategies to get past them. Get moving and start fighting the decline of time. You’ll make every stage of your life better!