The British Journal of Sports Medicine recently reported that a study they conducted indicated that 30 minutes of exercise each day throughout middle age can delay the effects of aging by as much as 12 years.
Our skeletal muscles form the functional and metabolic engines that control the expenditure of energy and the general health of our internal systems (heart, lung). For our bodies to function optimally and remain healthy, we must use our muscles, rather than burden our body by piling on body fat due to lack of exercise and bad eating habits.
We have all encountered some exceptionally fit seniors who have incredible energy and stamina, and are beaming with great health, while others of the same age or younger barely get around, and when they do, it’s often to visit the doctor, and are daily losing their physical independence and quality of life. Imagine having 12 additional years to enjoy your friends and family, watch your children and grandchildren grow, and smell the roses! Not to mention hanging on to independence and the ability to do things for yourself far later in life – and feeling good while you’re doing them.
The British Journal of Sports Medicine study specifically refers to aerobic exercise as jogging, cycling, brisk walking and swimming. Regular outputs of energy in these pursuits slow down, and sometimes even reverse the decline in balance, coordination, muscle strength and the body’s capacity to use oxygen and generate energy that occurs naturally with a sedentary lifestyle. Men who do not exercise lose up to half of their maximum aerobic power between the ages of 20 and 60 and women experience the same effect between 35 and 60. This is partly why older people often find normal activities so tiring.
On the other hand, the study indicates that prolonged regular exercise can boost aerobic power by a whopping 25%. Fitness and health professionals advise that aerobic exercise should be intensive enough to raise the heart rate to 120 beats a minute or more for the maximum effect – but frankly, even moderate exercise like a leisurely stroll or a bout of gardening is better than none at all.
Canadians are sadly lacking in their efforts, despite all the benefits regular exercise brings, such as lessening the risk of illness and premature death from conditions such as heart disease and diabetes. People who exercise also recover more quickly from illness, and they find the physical exertion heightens their moods and feeling of well-being.