By Sally Stelling:

“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.”― Albert Einstein

These are wise words indeed! Our bodies are meant to move no matter what age we are. The benefits of moving and keeping active not only help maintain the body but also the mind.

Exercise decreases the stress hormones such as cortisol and increases endorphins.  Endorphins are the body’s natural feel good chemicals, and when they are released through exercise, your mood is boosted naturally.  As well as endorphins, exercise also releases adrenaline, serotonin, and dopamine.  These chemicals work together to make you feel good. Endorphins are defined as hormone-like substances that are produced in the brain and function as the body’s natural painkillers.  During exercise, these endorphins are released, and this can produce feelings of euphoria and a general state of well being.

The best type of exercise for improving your mood is cardiovascular exercise.  This is because vigorous exercise helps to release the chemicals necessary for the mood-raising high.

Even if you only exercise for a short period of time, your mood will be improved.  Just ten minutes of moderate exercise is enough to improve your mood, your vigour and also decrease fatigue.  However, to obtain all the benefits from exercise, not just the mood improving aspects, you should do at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise every day.

Moving more and nourishing what’s inside your body, like the heart, muscles and bones, will have long-lasting results.

A recent Australian study of more than 200,000 adults published in Archives of Internal Medicine found that those who sat for 11 or more hours a day had 40 percent more risk of dying in the next three years as compared to those who sat for less than four hours a day.

This implies that aside from regular exercise of 30-60 minutes a day, one should stand and move more. YOU CAN stay strong even in your senior years.

Researchers from the Epidemiology and Public Health Group at the Peninsula Medical School in the UK concluded that the rate of decline in physical ability in later life was twice as high among less physically active middle-aged people (50-69) within all weight ranges.

Those who maintained a reasonable level of physical activity (30 minutes three or more times a week), like those who engaged in housework, sports and physically active jobs, were more likely to remain mobile, walk more, climb stairs, maintain their sense of balance, stand from a seated position with their arms folded, or sustain their hand grip as they get older.

So how can you incorporate physical activity that can be sustainable all your life?
Instead of focusing on your usual weight-loss goals, find a more long-lasting reason to exercise that will motivate you to move every day, like “to function normally and still do more activities as I grow older,” “to remain healthy as long as I can,” “to avoid any physical disabilities in the future,” or “to avoid hospital stays.”

Aside from your usual workout, you should have an activity that can be done wherever you are, like walking, household chores, or a simple home exercise program without the need for special equipment or a trainer.

Record in your journal even unintentional physical activities like walking and climbing stairs so you can see your daily accomplishments. This will motivate you to move more and more each day.

Good news for active people and athletes: use it and you won’t lose it.
After you reach age 35, without any regular physical activity, muscle loss will take place, resulting in strength decline, more fat and a slow metabolism. If you don’t use your muscles, they will definitely shrink and result in musculoskeletal problems.

Start now, regardless of your age, by incorporating a well-balanced fitness routine into your life, consisting of cardiovascular, strength, core and flexibility exercises.

In a nutshell exercising makes us healthy, happy, strong and cheerful. Now who wouldn’t want to be like that!

This month Marpole Physiotherapy Clinic is promoting a walking challenge as a way to encourage healthy lifestyles and encourage people to start moving. Please visit us at the front desk for further details.