“If you live long enough you will get old”, was the first thing out of Uncle Bud’s mouth this morning. After thinking about it we realized it was a true and profound statement. There is no way around the fact that no one can stay young forever. It did not take long for the conversation to take the direction Uncle Bud had hoped for. What can we do to stay healthy for the trip into old age?
We knew, as soon as the question was asked, Uncle Bud had the answer and was about to share it with us. We have played into his hands once again. But that was okay with us because we enjoy listening to him and he cares about the group.
Uncle Bud starts, “Today we will discuss a few of the top health benefits of exercise”. Then he begins:
Heart: Because the heart is a muscle it needs to be worked out in order to be in the best shape. You will do your heart a world of good by being faithful to your cardio workout. You can run, walk, swim, cycle, or do any other high-energy activity. Don’t forget your heart is a major source of your health. Therefore, it is crucial that your heart is healthy as you get older.
Bones: Bone health is a big part of being healthy. We need to take great care of our bones in order to stay healthy and strong throughout life and to prevent osteoporosis. By doing exercises that include some form of resistance for your muscles, like weight-training, walking, hiking and running, you will build up your bones. Remember that the bones you have now will be with you for your whole life, and after a while you’ll be glad that you kept them healthy. Yes, our bones age a year every time we have a birthday.
Reduce stress: Exercise reduces stress and can also lower your blood pressure. There are so many ways that exercise helps to reduce stress, including “runner’s high,” relaxation and distraction.
Makes you stronger: Obviously, exercise makes you stronger. Remember that different exercises work out different muscle groups. So, for stronger arms, try rowing, swimming or weightlifting. If you want stronger legs, there is running, cycling and the step machine. The more you exercise now, the less trouble you’ll have down the road when you’re exercising and the less risk you’ll have of getting injured.
Flex: By exercising your body and stretching every time (it’s really important to stretch before and after you exercise), you’ll improve your body’s flexibility. There are certain exercises that focus on flexibility and stretching, including yoga, Pilates and T’ai Chi. As you get older, you lose a lot of that flexibility. By stretching your body, you will help to keep some of that flexibility.
Weight control: Being thin does not mean being healthy. But, if you do feel like you have a weight problem, or think that you have the potential for gaining a lot of weight, then exercise is a great way to keep those extra pounds off. Don’t forget you need to include a healthy diet to your plan for staying healthy long term.
Happiness: Exercising gives you that “runner’s high” that you might have heard about. This is a rush of endorphins, which are chemicals that cause your brain to react in a positive, happy way. Plus, exercising makes you feel more confident. If you feel proud of yourself after a good workout, you’ll probably smile more afterward.
To end his lecture on a positive note, Uncle Bud reminds us that while we cannot stop the aging process we can certainly make it fun and easier by doing our part to grow old in a healthy way.