Movement strategies for healthy aging

It is so important to stay healthy and active as we age. In addition to consuming healthy whole food plant based nutrition, there’s no doubt or shortage of research on the benefits of movement and exercise to encourage strong bones & muscles, improve cardiovascular health and even cognitive function. Exercise can also reduce the risk of falls and injuries as we get older. But even if you’re not in perfect shape, you need to just START (after consulting your healthcare provider, of course and under the supervision of a certified trainer to be sure you have great form and are doing appropriate exercises). You’ll be surprised how quickly you can adapt to a new healthier lifestyle once you figure out what type of activities work best for you!

It’s never too late to start; however, there is an advantage to starting early to encourage healthy aging. What you do now determines how you’ll live a decade from now.

exercises for healthy aging

  • Low impact activities (Swimming, yoga, Pilates, walking, recumbent bike)
  • Group activities that incorporate the social aspect may increase your likelihood to participate & not skip. A few possibilities: pickle ball, tennis, golf, walking group – just make sure you don’t allow yourself to feel pressured to push harder than you should.
  • Resistance training: It’s so important to stay STRONG and avoid sarcopenia (age-related muscle loss)
  • Look for opportunities to increase general activity: studies have shown that staying more active throughout the day, providing our bodies the opportunity to increase the heart rate which improves cardiovascular health. Consider taking the stairs or the longer route to the bathroom at work, parking far away at the grocery, walking to chat with someone instead of sending an email.
  • Brain/body training: Activities that require some level of balance, agility, hand-eye coordination are great as well – again ask your healthcare provider for suggestions that are appropriate to your current ability & progress from there.

Inactivity and mortality risk

When looking at risk for cardiovascular disease as well as all-cause mortality, inactivity is a greater risk for both than any other single habit or practice. 

The evidence is clear: “when inactive individuals are compared with active individuals, the inactive individuals increase their risk of cardiovascular disease by between 150% and 240%, and  individuals who choose to be inactive accept the same increased risk of heart disease as individuals who smoke a pack of cigarettes a day! Unfortunately, 15% of the adult population in the United States still smoke a pack of cigarettes a day, and 60% to 80% are either not adequately active or completely inactive. Thus, inactivity carries the same risk as cigarette smoking a pack of cigarettes per day and is between 4 and 5 times more prevalent!   source

So how much exercise do you need? 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise per week, plus 2 days/week of strength training exercise is the general recommendation released by the CDC recently. Always check with your healthcare provider for specific recommendations tailored to your individual needs, and check out the CDC’s general guidelines here.

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Healthy at any weight? Maybe not…

In an article posted this week in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, Alejandro Lucia – professor of exercise physiology at the European University of Madrid concluded: “Our findings refute the notion that a physically active lifestyle can completely negate the deleterious effects of overweight and obesity.”

Obese and active participants were had double the likelihood of high cholesterol, were four times as likely to have diabetes and five times as likely to have high blood pressure when compared to normal weight but inactive participants.

“Exercise does not seem to compensate for the negative effects of excess weight,” Lucia said. “This finding was also observed overall in both men and women when they were analysed separately.”

Of course, overweight but active is a step in the right direction, but to really reduce incidence of chronic disease, it’s just as important to get weight into a healthy range as well

Need help? Join my monthly membership, or reach out to work with me privately to work on your fitness and weight loss goals. You’re worth it, and it’s never too late to get started!

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