A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic

10 reasons to keep fit as you age

couple walking their dogs next to a covered bridge

It’s important to keep fit as you age. Walking and other simple exercises are great options to mix into your daily routine.

Those of us who don’t get the kind of day-to-day physical activity we need are “unfit.”

Why is fitness important?

Physical activity means any movement of the body made by skeletal muscles and requires energy to accomplish. “Physical fitness” really means the ability of a person to do physical activity. Sounds simple, right?

How independent you are depends on how well you can function physically. Below is a list of 10 good reasons why you should make physical activity part of your everyday life, starting TODAY to keep fit as you age.

(To be safe, talk with your doctor before you start or add any strenuous exercise plan.)

10 reasons to keep fit as you age

1.  Physical activity increases bone density and limits osteoporosis.

Millions of Americans have low bone mass, putting them at risk for developing osteoporosis. This disease makes your bones weak and brittle; an active lifestyle combats that.

2.  It reduces your risk for falls.

Exercising helps you keep your balance better and slow down a natural decline in muscle fitness. “It improves bone and muscle strength, balance and how well we recover from injuries if we do fall,” explains Dr. Jaren Thomas, an internal medicine specialist at Marshfield Clinic Wausau Center.

3.  Increases metabolism to help you control your weight.

Metabolism measures how your body handles and uses nutrients. Strength training increases muscle mass, which raises metabolism. Your body uses more of the calories you take in because your resting metabolic rate increases. That leads to less body fat and makes it easier to control your weight.

4.  It makes you more flexible.

Doing things that put your body through the full range of movement helps keep it flexible. These exercises don’t need to be structured and some examples include walking instead of driving and using stairways rather than elevators.

5.  It can help you make new friends.

A great strategy for increasing activity is to do it in a group. Look for special exercise groups for older adults and ask casual acquaintances to join you.

6.  It improves your mood.

Exercise reduces depression and can lift your self-esteem. “Who doesn’t feel better after getting outside and moving around?” Thomas said.

7.  It helps you stay independent.

“The point of being active is to be able to do the things you love to do, when you want to, for as long as you possibly can,” said Thomas. “Studies show people who exercise over their lifetimes are more likely to avoid certain disabilities as they age.”

8, 9 and 10.  It helps your entire body.

Exercise improves the way your lungs work, helps prevent and control diabetes and is good for your heart. All of your body’s systems deteriorate naturally with age, but exercise can slow the breakdown and help you live well.

“In essence, physicians strive to provide excellent preventive medicine to their patients and exercise really is one of their ultimate tools,” Thomas said.

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