Aging, as we all know it, is an inevitable part of life. Over time, our bodies won’t feel the same as they once used to, and we experience changes in performance and mobility. There is a silver lining, however! We can slow down some of the detrimental aspects of aging through exercise.
Slowing Down Biological Degeneration
Did you know that 8 in 10 mature adults in America suffer from at least one chronic condition? The most common conditions today are hypertension, heart disease, high cholesterol, arthritis, and diabetes. Many of these conditions can speed up the aging process, but if you live with them, know that it is never too late to slow down the aging process.
How can exercise help?
It turns out that many of the challenges that come with chronic conditions such as pain, decrease in mobility, fatigue, and more can be improved significantly with consistent movement.
For most, the hardest part is getting started. Committing to just 15 minutes of daily walking has been proven to improve heart health, mobility, brain function, and blood sugar stabilization, especially in women! It is recommended to start slow and build tolerance over time. Johns Hopkins reports that exercising in an aerobic capacity for 12 minutes twice a day can be as effective as exercising aerobically for 30 minutes once a day. That certainly is an incentive to get started.
A recent report released by the American Academy of Neurology revealed the female brain received more benefits from physical activity than men, such as quicker speed of thought and a reduction in aging by nearly three years.
For more on how exercise impacts the brain, visit our article Your Brain on Exercise
Staying active with chronic conditions
Moderate exercise looks different for everyone! Following health guidelines and building a personal plan for you is the best way to achieve optimal wellness.
For the average adult, moderate exercise such as brisk walking, tennis, dancing, or swimming is recommended five days a week for 30 minutes. However, if you have spinal issues, such as low back pain, avoiding activities such as jogging, running, or start and stop activities that can impact your spine may be a good idea. That does not mean that you should not exercise. Chair aerobics, water exercise, and elliptical can all produce the same positive results.
For more vigorous workouts such as jogging and running, it is recommended to exercise for 25 minutes three times a week.
And for high intensity, such as weightlifting and power yoga, twice a week at about an hour is sufficient, according to the American Heart Association.
How can I know how much to push myself?
The National Council on Aging recommends the following guidelines for mature adults who live with chronic illness:
- Hypertension & High Cholesterol
Daily moderate exercise, including stretching, and muscle strengthening, is recommended
- Arthritis & Diabetes
Moderate stretching and strength building five times a week for 30 minutes is recommended
- Heart Disease
Focus on cardio exercise regularly
Working out around Southwest Florida
If you prefer to leave your home to work out, there are several excellent options! We are very fortunate to have many beautiful places to exercise around town. Collier Parks & Recreation has an excellent resource to help find different activities around town, including workout classes, fitness centers, and recreation centers. If you prefer outdoor activities, you may consider yoga, group fitness classes at one of our beautiful parks, or even kayaking along the mangrove bays!
I suffer from severe chronic fatigue; exercising at this point feels unimaginable.
For those struggling and in the process of healing, light aerobic exercises are recommended to improve mobility and blood flow. Even though it may not seem like much, consistency is key! Activities can be done while seated. Chair aerobics are a fantastic way to get started.
I haven’t exercised in ages. Is it too late to start?
It’s never too late to start! Beginning to exercise after a long period of time can bring significant advantages. “A University of Cambridge study of 14,599 adults aged 40 to 79 published this year reached similar conclusions. Researchers found that adults with cardiovascular disease and cancer gained substantial longevity benefits by becoming more active, regardless of their past physical activity levels.”
I am considering hiring a personal trainer. Is there anything I should know?
A personal trainer can be a great way to learn new exercises and be held accountable! Before getting started, it is essential to consult with your doctor about any medical concerns. Also, ensure that your trainer asks detailed questions about your diet and medical history. They must understand your unique situation before building a suitable exercise plan.
A message from Dr. Kandel
“In 1995, my partner at the time, Dr. Sudderth, and I hosted a full-day seminar at the Ritz Carlton beach hotel, Naples, involving 17 specialists talking about the advantages of exercise and aging. As far back as 27 years ago, we understood that exercise is the fountain of youth and the one certainty to impact your overall health positively. In addition to hydration, I told my patients to be a Nike commercial, and “JUST DO IT”!”
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