American Heart Assoc.

Make exercise a lifestyle choice

by | Mar 4, 2021 | Life & Style

There are many reasons to get in shape. Weight loss is a prime motivator, as is revers­ing a negative health effect, such as high cholesterol or in­creased diabetes risk. Routine exercise also can improve life expectancy.

WebMD says exercise keeps the body and brain healthy. That’s why exercise should be an important com­ponent of daily life no matter one’s age.

Research published in the journal Immune Aging found that how people age is 75 percent lifestyle and only 25 percent genetics, which un­derscores the importance of the lifestyle choices people make.

Cardiorespiratory fitness

Many health experts say that cardiorespiratory fitness may be just as valuable a met­ric to determine overall health as blood pressure and lipid levels. People with a high aerobic capacity can deliver oxygen to tissues and cells efficiently to fuel exercise, according to data published in 2014 in the journal Aging & Disease. In a study involv­ing 11,335 women, research­ers compared V02 max, also known as aerobic capacity, in women with mortality data. Women who were fit from a cardiovascular perspective had a lower death rate from all causes, irrespective of the women’s weight.

Manage stress and mood

Exercise has direct stress-busting benefits that can promote longevity. The Mayo Clinic says physical activity can increase the pro­duction of endorphins, which are the body’s feel-good neu­rotransmitters. In addition, exercise can imitate the ef­fects of stress, helping the body adjust its flight or fight response accordingly, and help them cope with mildly stressful situations. While en­gaged in exercise, people may forget about their problems as they are focused on the activ­ity at hand.

Improve bone health

Strength training and phys­ical activity can stave off the effects of frailty and osteo­porosis, which affects bone strength. A study published in the Journal of Internal Medicine in 2017 found that hip fractures are associated with diminished quality of life and survival among the elderly. One in three adults aged 50 and over dies with­in 12 months of suffering a hip fracture, and older adults have a five- to eight-times greater risk of dying with­in three months following a hip fracture. Building muscle strength, balance and bone density through exercise can reduce falls and frailty, help­ing to prevent fracture-related health risks.

Addresses sarcopenia

The health and wellness re­source Healthline defines sar­copenia as the loss of muscle mass specifically related to aging. Doctors once consid­ered this muscle loss inevita­ble, and it can affect stamina and lead to weakness. How­ever, new indications sug­gest that exercise is the main treatment regimen for sarco­penia, particularly resistance training. This is designed to improve muscle strength and help balance hormone levels by turning protein into energy for older adults.

These are just some of the ways exercise can help older adults live longer, healthier lives.

American Heart Assoc.

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