Question: Are there any real health benefits to it?
Answer: It’s hard for us to believe, but we hear this question often, so it must be true that many people don’t know about this. The simple answer is: There are COUNTLESS real health benefits for regular exercise, particularly after age 50 or so. Here are just a few.
- It lowers your risk of falling
- It helps prevent various types of cancer
- It reduces the risk of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease
- It lowers your risk of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, type 2 Diabetes and depression
- It improves sleep, function, quality of life
Question: I keep hearing about ‘cardio.’ What is that?
Answer: Cardiovascular conditioning or aerobic exercise — like running and cycling — benefits your heart and vascular system. It’s a great way to burn calories and provides physical, psychological and cognitive benefits.
Question: So that’s all I need to to?
Answer: Nope. You need four types of exercise: endurance, strength, balance and flexibility. It’d be nice to say that all you need is a few walks around the block once a week. Nice – but a fantasy.
Question: Should I focus just on losing weight?
Answer: No way! Losing weight is a common goal for people who want to get or stay fit. But you shouldn’t get too hung up on that number of the scale. There are so many more benefits. You’ll feel better, move better, and look better. If you also lose weight, that’s good, too.
Question: Can I work out even though I have arthritis?
Answer: Yes, you can – and should. It might seem counterintuitive but think about exercise as providing lubrication for your body. It lessens pain and stiffness by taking pressure off aching joints, and it can ease joint inflammation and stiffness.
Question: If exercising for older people is so great, how come my parents and grandparents didn’t do it?
Answer: Well, times have changed. Fitness was not generally a part of the culture until the late 1970s, early 1980s. Science has improved, along with our understanding of the health benefits of movement. We’re living longer, and you want to make the most of your time by living the life you want for as long as possible.
Question: Will I hurt myself?
Answer: You are more likely to hurt yourself if you are inactive. Fitness prevents injuries and chronic conditions; improves balance, bone density, and mental alertness; and helps us manage weight, blood pressure, and stress. The couch is far more dangerous than the gym!
Question: How much time does it take?
Answer: We all need at least 150 minutes a week of moderate cardio activity, plus at least two sessions of resistance training.
What questions do you have? We’re here with answers!
Sources: Health and Human Services, University of Nebraska, WebMD, National Council on Aging
Holly Kouvo is a personal trainer, functional aging specialist, senior fitness specialist, brain health trainer, writer, and speaker.