Exercising regularly has a multitude of benefits, but different lifestyles
and ages call for different approaches to fitness. Whether you’re
a baby boomer looking to move around a little more, or a Gen-Xer wanting
to feel younger, here is some useful information to get you on track.
Researchers are discovering that living a sedentary lifestyle is connected
to an ever-larger list of risk factors such as obesity, diabetes, increased
blood pressure and cardiovascular disease. Not only can it affect your
body, but it can be detrimental to your mental and emotional state. “The
effects of a sedentary lifestyle can increase the propensity for psychological
issues such as depression and anxiety,” says
Alex Zand, MD, an internal medicine physician at
St. Joseph Hospital Affiliated Physicians in Orange. When you exercise, the blood vessels expand, allowing more
oxygenated blood to reach the brain and opening the gateway for key hormones
to travel through the body to their designated areas.
You don’t have to sign up for an expensive gym membership to reap
the benefits of exercise, however. Walking just 30 minutes a day can be
impactful for those who need to get up and moving. If the thought of walking
seems a little on the boring side, incorporate it into something you find
stimulating, such as nature walks, or skipping the taxi when you’re downtown.
For those that want something more fast-paced, a bike ride might be just
the thing to keep your wheels turning. Whether it’s on a mountain
bike through gorgeous backcountry scenery or a relaxing beach cruise along
the coast, making it about more than just exercise is sure to increase
the enjoyment. Dr. Zand notes, “The more the brain is incorporated
into exercising, the more cognitive function improves due to the physiological
connection between mind and body.” By stimulating your brain through
making more decisions on a fast-paced ride, or through visually appealing
surroundings, you can maximize the benefits. If you live in an area that
makes cycling year-round difficult, try an upbeat indoor spin class.
Jumping hurdles or lifting weights might not be as easy an option for you
anymore, but it doesn’t mean you can’t revisit them with a
more tailored approach. Running can be hard on joints and limbs, however
using an elliptical allows for a more dynamic motion without the aches
and pains. If maintaining a toned physique is more your desire, try calisthenics
and cable exercises. “By activating the central nervous system through
muscle building exercises, the human growth hormone (HGH) becomes more
stimulated,” says Dr. Zand. Commonly referred to as a fountain of
youth, stimulating this hormone will help you feel younger and more confident.
Nutrition is the other piece of the puzzle to help kick-start a more active
lifestyle. It is important to complement your exercise with foods that
will not only give you more energy but also maintain a healthier body.
Be sure to incorporate healthy fruits, vegetables, carbohydrates and protein
into your diet. “By eating multiple servings of alkaline vegetables
throughout the day along with protein, the body can maintain a well-balanced
PH,” says Dr. Zand. And try eating more moderately sized portions
instead of larger, less frequent meals. Portion size moderation will allow
your body to use the nutrients as fuel for exercise instead of storing
them as unwanted fat.
The benefits of living an active lifestyle are attainable; however, it
takes commitment and accountability. Find a workout partner, whether it’s
a spouse or coworker, and by doing this, you can motivate and inspire
one another to continue the journey of pursuing a healthier life. It’s
never too late to make a difference and improve one’s health; all
it takes is the first step.
What do you do to stay active and healthy? Share a comment below.
Learn more about
Dr. Zand. Learn more about
St. Joseph Hospital Affiliated Physicians.
This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical
care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.