What will your last ten years look like? Or if you are of the “baby boomer” era, what will your next 10 or 20 years look like. Will you be lacing up the runners to head out on the trails or will you be sliding into slippers to take a lap in the nursing home. Will you be healthy, happy and enjoying retirement years or will you be battling sore joints, a “bad back’”, a poor memory, diabetes, heart disease, or other health issues? Most of you have the ability to determine the quality of your “golden years”. With proper nutrition and adequate exercise you have the tools to prevent many lifestyle related disease and ailments. It is also never too late to begin to make the change towards a better quality of life. Improvements can be made at any age.
Those sore joints might be relieved by weight loss, by developing stronger muscles around the joints or often just by moving on a regular basis. Back pain might be reduced through core strengthening exercise or flexibility training. Type II diabetes can often be monitored drug free through diet and exercise, which can also greatly reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke. There are many studies to show that exercise can even improve your memory and help ward off dementia. Not all disease or ailments associated with the aging body will be cured with nutrition and exercise. The genetic component is a big one, but you can definitely improve your quality of life by making these two factors top priority.
The pain of arthritis can be debilitating. But even arthritic joints can benefit from exercise. The joints have sinovial fluid running through them, activity helps keep this fluid as well as blood moving through the joints therefore reducing stiffness. Maintaining strength in the muscles surrounding joints will put less stress on the joint itself. Strong quad, hamstring, adductor and calf muscles can relieve the knee joint of stress and discomfort. Strength training in a gym will help this, but even just using those muscles more on a daily basis will work. Keeping flexible in as many ranges of motion about the joint as possible will also help reduce the pain of arthritis. Look to gentle yoga for this or even just basic stretches, again done regularly. Activities that don’t cause impact on the joints can really ease arthritic pain. Cycling or swimming for example are excellent activities for anyone with arthritis. These are non weight bearing, non impact activities that are less likely to aggravate the condition. They are also excellent cardiovascular activities that will help prevent heart disease and stroke as well as diabetes.
That same cardiovascular activity can help keep the mind sound. Studies have shown that older adults who are active, show less brain shrinkage. The brain needs blood flow and oxygen just like the heart muscle to keep it healthy. Sedentary brain puzzles are beneficial to brain health but exercise is quickly becoming equally important. Dancing is one of the best activities for the brain, especially where patterns or steps are learned, as it combines mind and body exercise.
Much back pain can be reduced through core strengthening and basic stretching. It’s a good idea to get a diagnosis from a chiropractor, a physiotherapist or your physician to rule out contraindicated activity prior to embarking on a back exercise plan, but if you are given the go ahead, feel confident in contacting a personal trainer for this. There are many many ways to improve back and abdominal strength that do not include sit-ups. A good trainer will have a wide variety of core strengthening activities to improve your back health.
Exercise alone may not be enough. Paying attention to correct nutrition may be necessary, especially for weight loss. There are plenty of specialists out there for this advice as well. Make the decision to enjoy your golden years. Get moving now. The quality of your future years can be as good as your past. Exercise for the health of it.