The Importance of Exercise as We Age: Staying Strong, Healthy, and Vital
Sixteen years ago, I started competing as a fitness athlete. I had no idea how beneficial this health and wellness path would be for me as I aged. At the first show, I had the honor to meet and speak with the legendary Ernestine Shepherd, or “Ernie,” as we all call her. Ernie was about 74 years old, and she was stage ready! Her advice to me was straightforward, KEEP GOING!
Ben Wilkison and Ernestine Shepherd (74 years old)
As we age, prioritizing health and well-being is more important than ever. Exercise is crucial to a healthy lifestyle, offering numerous physical, mental, and emotional benefits. Here's why exercising is so important as we age and how it can help us stay strong, healthy, and vital into our golden years.
Physical Health Benefits One of the primary benefits of exercise is improved physical health. Regular exercise can help maintain and improve cardiovascular health, reducing the risk of heart disease, stroke, and other chronic conditions. Exercise can also help maintain or increase bone density, reducing the risk of osteoporosis and fractures. Additionally, exercise can improve flexibility, balance, and coordination, reducing the risk of falls and injuries.
Mental Health Benefits Exercise has also been linked to numerous mental health benefits. Regular exercise can help reduce the risk of depression and anxiety, improve mood, and enhance cognitive function. Exercise has also been shown to reduce stress and promote relaxation, improving overall mental and emotional well-being.
Social Benefits Finally, exercise can offer numerous social benefits, especially as we age. Group exercise classes or activities can provide opportunities for social connection and engagement, reducing feelings of isolation and loneliness. Additionally, exercise can help maintain or improve physical appearance, boosting self-esteem and confidence.
Tips for Starting and Maintaining an Exercise Routine Starting and maintaining an exercise routine can be challenging, especially for older adults. Here are some tips for getting started and staying motivated:
Start slow and gradually increase intensity and duration.
Choose activities that you enjoy and are appropriate for your fitness level.
Incorporate strength training, flexibility, balance exercises, and aerobic activity.
Find a workout partner or join a group exercise class for motivation and accountability.
You can track your progress and celebrate your accomplishments.
Overall, exercise is an essential component of healthy aging. By prioritizing physical activity and making it a regular part of our routine, we can reap the numerous physical, mental, and social benefits of exercise and enjoy a happy, healthy, and vital life well into our later years.