If you’re thinking about getting into better shape, the chances are pretty good that you want to do it to improve your overall quality of life. You want the energy to keep up with your kids and participate in their lives instead of simply watching from the sidelines. You want the stamina to do all of those fantastic things you’ve got on your bucket list. You no doubt want a strong, healthy body that will keep you engaged with life.
Getting fit doesn’t just improve your life right now, either. Making it a point to stay fit as you grow older is the best way to make sure you enjoy a high quality of life as you age. Here, we’ll go over some of the most important reasons to make fitness a top priority for the rest of your life.
It will be easier to maintain a healthy weight.
While people have many different motivations for keeping fit, weight loss is one of the most common factors. Some people may already be overweight and looking to lose a few pounds. Others want to keep extra pounds at bay so they can maintain a healthy weight.
Regular exercise not only helps burn off excess calories, but it also builds lean muscle mass. When you’re younger, you’re probably more interested in the way these benefits help you look physically fit. As you age, your metabolism naturally slows down, making it a lot tougher to keep weight off. Exercise can help balance this effect, helping you keep frustrating pounds from adding up as time rolls on.
Getting fit right now and making an effort to maintain your progress will make it a lot easier to stay slim, maintain muscle mass, and remain active as you age. This, in turn, will dramatically improve your overall health and wellness in many ways.
Your heart will be healthier.
Good heart health is important at any age, but it becomes increasingly important as we grow older. That means adopting a heart-smart diet that promotes a healthy circulatory system. It also means adding regular exercise to your daily routine. Remember, your heart is a muscle, and muscles need to be worked in order to get strong and stay that way.
You don’t have to become a champion marathon runner or make your life all about the gym to reap those benefits, either. When you make it a point to exercise at a moderate intensity for at least 30 minutes at a time, five times a week, you:
Lower your blood pressure.
Lower your cholesterol level.
Improve your circulation.
Improve your overall cardiovascular health.
Reduce your risk of heart attack, stroke, or heart disease.
Naturally, the fitter you become and the more you work out, the greater the overall benefits both now and later in life.
You’ll be a lot stronger.
Staying fit and logging lots of active time inevitably improves your fat-to-muscle ratio. The more body fat you convert to lean muscle mass, the stronger you’re going to become. Being strong isn’t just about being able to lift heavy barbells at the gym, either. The stronger you are, the easier it becomes to do everyday tasks like:
Doing household chores.
Decorating and maintaining your home’s aesthetic.
If you’d like to be able to continue doing daily activities with ease well into your golden years, fitness is a must. You have an endless choice of activities to choose from, including weightlifting and body resistance exercises like sit-ups, pull-ups, and push-ups. Even yoga and resistance band workouts can be effective.
Your balance will be better.
Balance isn’t something many people think about when it comes to fitness, especially when they’re younger, but it’s a major component to a healthy body. The older we get, the tougher maintaining adequate balance can become. Without it, you’re more susceptible to falling—something that becomes increasingly dangerous as you age.
According to the CDC, falls result in more trauma-related hospital admissions, as well as more injury-related deaths, than any other factor for those over 65. The better you maintain your balance as you age, the lower your likelihood of ever sustaining a fall severe enough to threaten your life or future mobility.
Strength training will help with balance, but activities like yoga, tai chi, and kickboxing are great ways to build and maintain your balance as well. Plus, they’re fun, so they’re easy to stick with as you move forward in life.
If you do suffer an injury, you’ll recover a lot more quickly.
Many benefits of staying fit and active as you get older are about prevention. However, should an injury occur, you’ll be muchbetter equipped to bounce back if you maintain an active lifestyle.
According to research published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, elderly people who include exercise as part of their daily routine spend around 25% less time hurt or injured than those who don’t.
On the flip side, less active elderly people might find themselves caught in a cycle that goes from injury to immobility. Getting in shape now and maintaining your progress as you advance into old age is your best possible bet at reducing the chances that this never happens to you.
Your flexibility will remain tip-top well into old age.
There’s a reason most people associate complaints like stiff backs, stooped posture, and arthritis with the elderly. Loss of flexibility is a major concern for older people. As life slows down, your muscle mass diminishes, and your joints stiffen.
That’s because muscle tone and mobility really are “use it or lose it” propositions. When you exercise on a regular basis, you keep your muscles toned, and your joints limber. Again, strength training is really important, but so are dedicated flexibility exercises. Make sure you’re engaging in a stretching session at least two or three times a week; aiming for four or five is even better! You’ll lower your likelihood of ever suffering from back pain, stiffness in the joints, and bad posture.
You’ll alleviate symptoms associated with depression.
While anyone can develop depression, aging and elderly people are especially susceptible for a number of reasons. To begin with, 80% of older people suffer from at least one chronic health condition, with around 50% dealing with two or more disorders. When a condition limits your mobility and ability to function, it’s easy to sink into a depression over it.
Plus, depression often goes overlooked in elderly people. Family members and healthcare providers can dismiss the symptoms as normal changes that come along with getting older or managing certain health conditions.
Getting fit and making a point to stay active can help keep depression at bay. You’ll be less likely to develop chronic health conditions, as well as morelikely to retain maximum mobility and a high quality of life. Plus, exercise floods your system with feel-good endorphins—very helpful for managing moods and alleviating the symptoms of depression, in particular.
You’ll retain better memory function.
Many of the benefits of exercise are directly related to body function. Over time, it reduces inflammation, reduces insulin resistance, and stimulates the renewal of bodily resources like cells. All of these factors can affect the health of your brain cells.
That said, regular exercise doesn’t just keep your body healthy. It keeps your mind functioning properly, as well. In fact, it can changethe structure and function of your brain for the better, especially if you keep up with it over the years.
Many studies suggest that those who exercise retain greater memory function and control over their mental facilities than those who don’t. Staying active and fit can reduce your risk of developing absent-mindedness or even dementia as you get older. There’s some evidence that it may even lower your risk of developing Alzheimer’s.
You’ll have a much easier time sleeping well.
Chronic sleep deprivation is a problem for literally millions of people. In the U.S., alone, around 40 million people say they suffer from one or more chronic sleep disorders. An additional 20 million admit to having sleep issues at least occasionally. An ongoing lack of good-quality sleep isn’t something you just want to accept, either. Without enough sleep, your body doesn’t get the downtime it needs to heal from injury and ward off disease. It’s harder to stay alert and clear-headed, as well.
This only becomes more important as you age. While exercise might not cure your sleep issues altogether, it cango a long way to improve the quality of your sleep. Studies show that those who log at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week sleep 65% better than those who don’t.
You’re more likely to hold onto your intimate life.
Lots of people simply assume it’s normal to lose your desire and ability to get intimate as you get older. It’s not! Just like the loss of muscle tone, flexibility, or mental acuity, exercise can help you avoid losing your sex drive.
Regular exercise keeps your circulatory system healthy and functioning. This, in turn, helps prevent issues like impotence and erectile dysfunction. Exercise also helps boost the production of vital hormones like testosterone. Who wouldn’t want an active romantic life well into their golden years? Make a habit of hitting the gym now to help maintain your vitality.
You could live longer.
The sooner you make activities like cardio and strength training a regular part of your life, the more you increase the chances of avoiding certain life-threatening diseases altogether. Staying fit greatly improves the overall health of your heart, as well as lowers your cholesterol. Lowering your risk of developing heart disease or suffering a heart attack is critical as you age.
If getting cancer is a great concern, you’ll be happy to know that exercise also helps lower your chances of developing several forms of the disease, including colon cancer. That’s not all, either. Keep lifting those weights and lacing up those running shoes, and you might be able to dodge diabetes, osteoporosis, and chronic hypertension as well.
You’ll retain your confidence and self-esteem.
It’s important not to underestimate the power of confidence and a healthy sense of self-esteem. Confidence can often be the reason that inspires you to make your dreams come true instead of staying home and living vicariously through others. Nothing sends a person’s confidence soaring through the roof quite like becoming the best possible version of themselves.
When you’re in great physical shape, you can trust your body to a higher degree. You won’t wonder if you’re prepared for that big hike or the cross-country road trip your kids have been dreaming about. You know you can do it! When you look your best and feelyour best, you’re more outgoing and adventurous and ready to meet life’s challenges.
Keep up with your fitness routine, and you can look forward to feeling that way well into old age. It all starts with the simple decision to get up, get out, and get active. An incredible future and a meaningful life are waiting for you, so get started today!