7 Reasons Baby Boomers Should Exercise (Besides Fitness)
Everyone knows that exercise is good for your health, but most people associate exercise with losing weight. However, there are plenty of reasons other than fitness to stay active as an older adult. Here are a few reasons you may not have considered. Of course, if you’re looking to tone muscles and boost physical health, that’s more than enough reason to stay active!
We all know that people tend to get slower and weaker with age. You might not be able to sprint, jump, and climb as you used to, but if you keep moving your muscles, you can prolong your strength for as long as possible. Being strong allows you to live longer independently and to keep doing the things you love, such as playing with your grandkids, engaging in hobbies, and even everyday things like driving, buying groceries, and managing the house.
Independence is something many older adults value. If exercise helps you maintain independence, it’s simply a practical investment to make.
Some older adults struggle with mental health. It makes sense: being isolated and no longer engaged in a career can put anyone in the doldrums. If you can relate to this, exercise may just be the remedy you need.
According to science, not only does exercising stimulate your brain’s feel-good chemicals (endorphins), it also causes you to release neurotrophic proteins, proteins that spur nerve cell growth and connection. This phenomenon improves brain function and mood.
Retirement may be a lonely time. You may miss water cooler conversations with your colleagues, and younger family members may be too busy with the demands of work and child-rearing to spend time with you. For seniors who have lost partners and friends, the isolation can get pretty miserable.
If you’re looking for other humans to mill with, consider joining organized sport. This can mean anything, from Sunday morning tai chi lessons in the park to competing with a local league. Some activities, like biking, walking, and hiking, can be done alone or in groups, depending on your mood.
It’s good for your mind
The mind is a muscle that deserves to be flexed as much as your biceps. Retirement may make it more difficult for folks to keep their minds intellectually stimulated, and while sports are not the same as playing chess or reading a book, there is preliminary research that suggests physical activity can help protect your mind against dementia-related conditions like Alzheimer’s.
When it comes to physical activity, you’re not limited to sports. Practical, everyday activities like gardening, yard work, fixing things around the house, and doing chores count if they get you moving and raise your heart rate. If you’ve been putting off cleaning out your adult child’s old room, or fixing that skylight, the health benefits of exercise may be just the extra motivation you need. Exercise can help you achieve some productivity.
It helps you sleep
Some older adults find it difficult to get enough quality sleep. Exercise has been shown to help people of all ages sleep better, and good sleep is linked to better health and mood in general. However, try not to exercise within three hours of bedtime – doing so may interfere with sleep quality.
When you become a retiree the end of a steady stream of income may mean a little more financial stress than before. However, many activities you can do are free! Walking in the park, hiking, biking, and using free public facilities like community basketball hoops come at no extra cost to you. You don’t need fancy gizmos or expensive equipment to stay fit. Other activities, like swimming or signing up for a fitness class, may be offered at low cost for seniors at community centers with senior discounts.
Speaking of discounts…
Fitness, Finances, and Finding Information
If you’re struggling with the costs of health, free fitness is a great place to start, but if you require medications for chronic conditions, you can save money by buying prescription meds online. International and Canadian pharmacy referral services like Canadian Pharmacy Service offer popular medications at reduced prices. When shopping online, however – whether it’s for prescription drugs, exercise gear, or even groceries! – always use an extra dose of caution. When in doubt, contact the company directly to ask questions. For example, both pharmacy referral services mentioned above welcome customers’ doctors to speak with them directly.
Similar caution is also advised when researching health information (this article included!). Before making any serious changes to your diet or activity, consult with your family doctor, especially if you have a chronic illness. When looking up health information online, stick to reputable sources. For example, much of the research used for this article was taken from the U.S. National Institue on Aging.
Keep moving, and there will be plenty to enjoy in the years to come. It’s never too late to start on a new fitness journey or exercise goal. Now might just be the perfect time.