It’s finally happened. You’ve woken up one morning and discovered that your normally quiet awakening is filled with creaks and groans, like the old cogs of a machine that have started to rust.
You’re making sounds whenever you bend, stretch or flex in any way. Muscles that never hurt before are all of a sudden sore and tired, and your knees make an odd popping sound that reminds you of the microwave on movie night.
Where did it all go wrong? What happened to the young, youthful body you once had?
Middle-age can be a rude awakening for some, but for those who have maintained a regular exercise routine, the downhill slope becomes significantly less angled. Workouts aren’t just for the young; adults 40 and up can also find significant health benefits to exercising.
There are several reasons seniors and middle-aged adults should consider making time to exercise to improve their physical and mental health.
1) Exercise reduces the risk of heart disease and serious illness.
As you age, your heart gets weaker, and it has trouble keeping up with the blood flowing through your body. Arteries can start to clog up with bad cholesterol, leading to heart attacks and other complications.
Exercise helps to strengthen your heart so it can work at the pace it needs to, and along with a healthy diet, it can keep your arteries clear. Exercise can even lessen the risk of cancer and improve your immune system, which means fewer illnesses from bacteria and infections. That sounds like a pretty good reason to get on the treadmill and do a few laps.
2) Exercise reduces pain in muscles and joints and increases flexibility.
Those cracks and creaks you feel when you bend over to tie your shoelaces can be prevented by a healthy exercise routine. Exercising your muscles builds them up so they can better support your joints, and it also helps prevent diseases such as osteoporosis.
It can even benefit organs such as the lungs by increasing capacity for better, easier breathing. This in turn gets more oxygen to the brain, keeping you fit both in mind and in body.
3) Speaking of minds, exercise can have psychological benefits too.
We all want to reduce the stress in our lives, but did you know that exercise can help fight things like anxiety and depression?
This is because exercising releases endorphins, a brain chemical that tickles the pleasure center of the brain and makes us happy.
Seniors are just as much at risk for mental health issues as the rest of us, so exercise is a great way for them to occupy both their time and their minds to stave off depression. Keeping in shape as you age also gives you a more positive mindset, so the next time you’re feeling blue, lift some weights or take a brisk walk. You’ll feel better in more ways than one.
There’s no cure-all for the aging process, but getting older doesn’t have to be so hard. Staying in shape with a healthy exercise routine and proper diet will keep you active for longer, easing you into old age with all the grace you deserve.