Physical activity is key to a long and healthy life, and yet, a significant percent of the adult population doesn’t exercise.
The New York Times, in a May 12, 2021 article by Gretchen Reynolds, noted “We already have plenty of evidence that exercise affects how long and well we live … studies show that older athletes develop and retain stronger bones, brains, hearts, muscles and immune systems than people of the same age who rarely work out.”
The Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) researchers analyzed data from the 2014 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System and found nearly 30% of Americans over 50 “are not physically active beyond the basic movements needed for daily life activities.”
Obviously, the concept of exercise is simple but its implementation isn’t always easy. Here are three approaches to make it easier to stay physically active:
Your Number One Priority: Make exercise your number one priority each day. Do it first thing before you do anything else. Do physical activities you enjoy and mix it up by trying new things. And remember, doing some physical activity is better than doing nothing.
Just Say YES! When someone invites you to try a new sport, exercise program, or physical activity, your default response should be a resounding “Yes!” This approach will open new experiences and will create neuroplasticity: creating new neural connections and generating new neurons. These changes positively affect memory, attention, thinking, language, and reasoning skills. And who knows, you may uncover your next passion.
Go Big: If you already have a good routine with one type of exercise, see how you can take that big. If you like to run, run-walk or jog, for example, train for a 5K. If you like to hike, consider walking the Camino de Santiago in Spain or something equally challenging closer to home. If you like to ski, splurge for a heli skiing trip. These are all ways to provide you with something to look forward to and to push yourself out of your comfort zone.
If you decide to go big, just make sure to build your work outs slowly. Data show that sudden changes in training load may play a key role in the development of injury. To help prevent injury, Dr. Sam Sunshine*, a sports medicine physician in Laguna Beach, Calif., recommends cross training which is an exercise regimen that uses several modes of training such as aerobic, flexibility, and strength. “Cross training improves fitness, reduces injury, and keeps your workouts fresh,” he says.
Throughout the “Active You” section of this blog, we will introduce you to ideas on staying active and learning new things.
* Dr. Sunshine is related to Big Retired Life founder, Diana Sunshine.
Love it. Make exercise the day’s #1 priority!