Thankfully, our attitudes and expectations of exercise and ageing have changed significantly over time. It would have been considered ludicrous for an 80, 70 or even 60 years old to run a marathon before. Now, it’s considered very doable.
When I was nursing back in the 70’s, it was believed that the brain had very little capacity to change once we reached adulthood. As we aged, our brains became less and less able to adapt to interactions with our environments.
So, in many ways, we had to accept the inevitable decline of old age. And exercising less or not at all was part of that…
We now know that the brain has an incredible capacity for change over a person’s lifetime, and this is called neuroplasticity.
The fact that the brain is able to grow and regenerate means our cognitive and physical capacities can expand and thrive, even in our later years.
Several neurological health studies have demonstrated dramatic physical and mental gains in older adults who commit to a progressive activity schedule.
With these exciting discoveries, you can challenge any restricting assumptions that keep you from being physically and mentally active.
One really positive and motivating way to think about exercise is that it produces many physiological adaptations that are the opposite to the effects of ageing on our bodies. Even up to the 9th decade of life.
The Australian government Health Department specifies that 150-300 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity or 75-150 minutes of vigorous intensity physical activity, is required for good health and well-being.
The guidelines also recommend that adults aged 18-64 years do muscle strengthening activities on at least 2 days per week.
Exercise has many benefits for our health and well-being.
Australia’s physical activity and sedentary behaviour guidelines says:
“Move more, sit less everyday.”
So, what are the benefits?
Aerobic exercise (Cardio):
- improves your aerobic fitness and endurance
- reduces your risk of, and helps manage cardiovascular disease (CVD)
- reduces your risk of, and helps manage type 2 diabetes
- maintains &/or improves your blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar -levels
- reduces your risk of, and assists with rehabilitation from some cancers
- helps prevent unhealthy weight gain and assists with weight loss
- builds muscle strength and endurance, and bone mineral density
- improves joint health
- promotes psychological well-being (reduces anxiety and depression)
- increases endorphins, which significantly lift mood
- enhances connections between brain cells (neurons)
- creates opportunities for socializing and meeting new people
- helps you develop and maintain overall physical and mental well-being
- experience more energy and less tiredness
Resistance training (weight training with body weight, weights &/or machines):
- improves white matter, which leads to better cognitive abilities, including attention
- improves the health of arteries throughout the body
- reduces levels of atherosclerosis, which can impede the flow of blood with it’s essential nutrients and oxygen
changes blood chemistry, so as to limit the inflammatory process (chronic inflammation can occur with high blood glucose, persistent stress, and other unhealthy lifestyle choices, resulting in tissue damage. The body actually attacks itself with chronic inflammation).
Flexibility and Balance Training:
- improves posture, mobility and balance
- reduces the risk of falls and injury
- helps maintain your ability to perform everyday tasks.
The goal is to find activities that keep you moving, challenge your brain, and make you happier in the process.
One way of doing that is to tune into the Strength and Mobility exercise classes I do in our Fit Healthy Grounded Women Facebook group.