Exercise is good for you. We’ve all heard that before. It’s right up there with those other common adages we hear in the back of our minds throughout our lives: “Eat your vegetables,” “take your vitamins,” or “stand up straight.” But we rarely stop to ask ourselves just how important exercise is and why it’s beneficial. Understanding the impact of physical fitness and making it a part of your regular routine, can help you maintain good health and boost your overall quality of life.
Countless studies prove the important health benefits associated with exercise, and staying active becomes more crucial as we age. In our 20s, we begin to lose muscle mass and, by the time we enter our 60s, that loss becomes even more significant. As a cornerstone of many great exercise routines, strength training and cardio exercises yield a variety of health benefits for people of all ages. In fact, science shows lifting weights just once per week can prevent health problems and improve your strength, mood, well-being and so much more!
Whether you’re in your teens, 20s or even your 90s, exercise is integral to a healthy lifestyle. “As we grow older, challenges with balance, strength, flexibility and cardio health can surface,” explains Gary Linder, a personal trainer at Magdalena Ecke Family YMCA. “Speaking from the standpoint of being a senior citizen, staying active is so important.” Fitness has been a part of Gary’s life since he was young, and at the age of 68, he’s keeping the momentum going. In September, he participated in the San Diego Senior Games, an annual sports competition with Olympic-style events for adults ages 50+. Gary competed in the fitness category, winning first and second in two events and third in three events.
In addition to his commitment to his own fitness, Gary is also committed to helping others at the Y achieve their goals through personalized fitness plans. “I take the approach to my clients that they are all different, and as a personal trainer, I have to assess each person and develop a plan,” he says. “One program does not fit everyone, as I have worked with teenagers and folks in their 90s.” Whether you’re hoping to get a fitness routine started, get out of a rut or just need motivation and accountability, our health and wellness staff can set you on the right path.
"I take the approach to my clients that they are all different, and as a personal trainer, I have to assess each person and develop a plan."
Regular physical activity can help you live your best life! Here’s how:
1. Improves Heart Health
Lifting weights for up to 60 minutes per week can drastically improve heart health, according to a study published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. When we lift weights, our lean muscle mass expands and increases, which ultimately leads to expanded blood flow and less strain placed on the arteries.
2. Boosts Mood
Exercise can improve your mood and decrease feelings of depression, anxiety and stress by increasing the production of endorphins, which are known to help produce positive feelings and reduce the perception of pain.
3. Strengthens Your Bones and Muscles
Regular exercise can help kids and teens build strong bones and, later in life, it can also slow the loss of bone density that comes with age. As we grow older, keeping up our strength is essential to maintaining health and the ability to live independently. Exercise improves strength and flexibility, which also help improve balance and coordination, reducing the risk of falls for seniors.
4. Helps You Sleep Better
Staying active can contribute to more sound and restful sleep. Physical activity increases time spent in deep sleep, the most physically restorative sleep phase. Deep sleep helps to boost immune function, support cardiac health and control stress and anxiety.
5. Reduces Your Risk of Chronic Illness
Daily physical activity is essential to maintaining a healthy weight and reducing the risk of chronic disease. Regular exercise has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity, heart health and body composition. It can also decrease blood pressure and cholesterol levels and prevent obesity.