Congratulations on making the commitment to achieving optimal health. I believe that an exercise is a powerful tool that greatly influences your ability to be fully healthy. It also puts you above the majority of the world population from a health standpoint — according to the World Health Organization 1 in 4 adults worldwide do not get enough physical activity, which puts them at risk for chronic diseases.
Staying fit and strong, especially in your senior years, requires consistency and dedication. Both my parents passed away a few years ago due to frailty, and it was deeply saddening to see them deteriorate so rapidly. While many factors contributed to their premature passing, I believe that frailty and losing their ability to move freely have played major roles. This motivated me to have a stringent regular exercise routine to keep my body fit and flexible, so I could avoid the fate of both my parents.
I’ve been doing a mixture of resistance training and general body movement for the last dozen years or so. My body began transforming during my 50s, and now I feel better at 66 than I did when I started. But it’s never too late to start for anyone. All you need to do is get started, and keep going!
When you exercise, you’re already moving up the ladder toward optimal health. But in order to maximize the benefits of exercise, it needs to be combined with proper nutrition, sufficient high-quality sleep, stress management and holistic living.
You may think exercise is all about shedding excess pounds and getting toned abs and glutes, but these are actually just a fraction of what exercise can do for you — no matter how old you are. Even when initiated later in life, exercise can provide you with profound physical and mental health benefits.
- Slows down aging — Your body begins to increase the production of cellular energy and new mitochondria, which may help slow down premature aging.
- Gives you better skin — The increased blood flows from exercising boosts your circulation, thereby bringing more oxygen and nutrients to your skin. Resistance training can maximize results further because increasing muscle mass can help your skin appear tauter.
- Helps you recover better from chronic disease — Those affected with chronic conditions such as depression, anxiety, joint pain, and cancer may manage the symptoms better through exercise.
- Shrinks your fat cells — High-intensity exercise has been shown to affect genes related to fat metabolism.
- Helps shape your immune system — Staying active as you age may help keep your immune system in top shape by improving its innate and adaptive functions.
- May lower COVID-19 mortality risk — COVID-19 patients have a high risk of developing acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). Research has shown that exercising may reduce your risk of developing ARDS, which may translate to a lower mortality risk for COVID-19.2
Mental Benefits of exercise:
- Boosts your brain health — Increasing your physical activity helps improve oxygenation in your brain, which can result in improved cognitive function.
- Improves your mood — Exercise produces neurons in your brain that may help uplift your disposition.
The struggle to stay motivated when exercising by yourself is not uncommon. If you’re going through this slump, you need to make positive changes to get back on track. One of the most effective ways to help you meet your fitness goals is to get a workout partner.
In fact, there are studies that not only support this but show you may even get as much as double the results you achieve during a fitness session. Researchers from the University of Aberdeen3 noted that having a partner can help you exercise more by helping you not miss an exercise session, or to exercise a little harder. Furthermore, they found that the partner offering emotional support in addition to the practical support was actually more effective than the practical support alone.
Here are some other tips to help you look for a workout partner:
- Approach someone at the gym you are already friendly with
- Ask for suggestions from fitness trainers at the gym
- Try looking for workout buddies in MeetUp.com or ZogSports.com
- Sign up at the local recreation center
- Connect with friends or family
Benefits of Vigorous Exercise
While exercising, in general, is good for your health, you can achieve better results if you increase the intensity, even for small bursts at a time. Published research shows how vigorous exercise may benefit your health in crucial ways, such as boosting your metabolism.
In one study, test participants were evaluated on how exercise affected their metabolite action. Researchers discovered that short bursts of intense exercise produced positive effects on metabolites associated with cardiovascular health and long-term outcome. Those who engage in vigorous exercise also have a lower risk of all-cause mortality compared to those who are moderately active, according to another study.4
But how can you find the time and place to exercise, especially with lockdowns being implemented in many places these days? With a large part of the working population now confined to their homes, sedentary routines are bound to develop. However, it doesn’t have to be this way — exercising in your living room or garage can go a long way in keeping you healthy. Here are four tips you can try to make exercising and staying active easier while at home:
- Activity snacks — Long periods of inactivity should be broken by “activity snacks” to get your body moving again. You can take a walk around your home or in your neighborhood to reinvigorate yourself. Basking in the sunshine while walking is also great to help boost vitamin D production.
- Nonexercise movement — If you aren’t able to take activity snacks, make the effort to move your body around, at the very least. Standing from your chair every 30 minutes and stretching can be a big boon. You can try using a Swiss ball instead of a regular chair if you spend a long time in front of a screen. This device encourages movement to keep your muscles active.
- Strengthening exercises — You can maintain muscle strength without the need for fancy gym equipment. Exercises such as squats, jumping jacks, calf raises, planks and burpees can help you stay fit.
- Indoor exercise — Finding ways to get aerobic exercise at home is as easy as running up and down the stairs. You can also follow along to your favorite aerobic workout video, or consider purchasing a stationary bike.
Why You Should Join a Gym
Joining a gym can help you meet your fitness goals more easily. One of the main benefits of joining a gym is the atmosphere — you’ll be inspired to take your training more seriously, and you’ll become dedicated to achieving greater results.
When you join a gym, you get to soak in the training culture. As time goes by, you will focus on living a healthier lifestyle until it becomes second nature to you. Another big benefit to joining a gym is access to resources. The people there may help you get started on concepts such as high-intensity interval training (HIIT), strength training, and a host of other exercises that you may not discover on your own when exercising at home.
If you’re thinking you can’t muster up the motivation to join a gym for any number of reasons, just do it anyway, and dive right in. It’s normal to feel intimidated by the environment, especially if you haven’t visited a gym before. But the trick is not to compare yourself to what everyone else is doing. Simply focus on yourself and your own workout goals, and you’ll eventually see results.