Women and Physical Exercise
Physical Fitness is important. Our bodies were designed to move. They were not designed to be stationary or lay idle for long periods. Inactivity causes muscle wasting, heart, and respiratory issues, problems with our muscles and, bones, and other organs. Yet, the older we get, the less interest we have in exercise. Yet, this a the time we need movement the most.
There are many benefits to exercise for women over 40. “I like how I feel after exercise, but it’s the starting part that I have a problem with most days.” Does this sound familiar? It’s the story of my life. I start to work out and may even do it for some weeks and months, but I struggle with consistency. What is it that makes others love working out? How do I make time for it? The answer is simple. We make time for what we consider to be a priority in our lives.
The Importance of Exercise
Here are a few facts from womenshealth.gov, but in a few words, to improve your health. Exercise to manage weight and take advantage of doing something healthy for yourself. Consider it a way of pampering yourself. However, there are also many health benefits to making physical activity a way of life.
There is strong evidence that physical fitness and regular exercise can lower your chances of the following diseases:
Heart Disease – This includes heart attacks and other blood or circulatory problems. A stroke occurs when the blood supply to part of the brain is interrupted or reduced. It can cause paralysis and brain injury.
High Blood Pressure – When the blood that pumps against the artery wall pumps hard for an extended period, it damages the organs and leads to further health problems.
Cholesterol – Unhealthy cholesterol levels cause clogging of the arteries.
Type 2 diabetes -occurs when your body does not make enough insulin or use insulin effectively. This can lead to other diseases, such as kidney failure.
Metabolic Syndrome – WebMD defines Metabolic Syndrome not as a disease but as a group of risk factors such as high blood pressure, high blood sugar, unhealthy cholesterol, and abdominal fat. Colon cancer can be avoided with regular exercise.
Breast cancer – A sedentary lifestyle increases the risk of all types of cancer.
Falls – No exercising leads to the breakdown of bones as we age, which can lead to injury in the event of falls.
Depression – This can look different as we age. One way to help ward off depression is to exercise. It can boost mood. Depression left untreated can lead to heart disease.
Hearing this should motivate us to exercise and make physical fitness a priority. But wait, let’s talk about a few more things.
What can happen if you don’t exercise and are out of shape and overweight? Is physical fitness that important?
Well, besides the things mentioned above, here are some additional health risks:
Breathing Problems – I know you’ve heard of sleep apnea. Muscle tone decreases as we age, and extra weight and lack of exercise increase periods where breathing is stopped for multiple periods during the night.
Osteoarthritis – Brittle bones, lack of exercise, and extra weight are bad combinations if you are prone to osteoarthritis, which can be debilitating.
Gallbladder Disease – The gallbladder is a small sac under the liver that stores bile. It can become diseased. Exercise lowers the chances of getting gallbladder disease regardless of how much fat tissue you have.
Reflux Disease – Reflux is when the gastric solution or acidic fluid flows backward into your esophagus. This can lead to choking during the night and burning in the throat; you guessed it, regular exercise and limiting eating late at night help decrease the symptoms of reflux.
How much exercise should you get?
There are many theories and views on how much is needed. Still, the public health guidelines recommend a minimum of two hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity (such as brisk walking or gardening) or one hour and 15 minutes of vigorous exercise (jogging, aerobics, and jumping rope) weekly.
That isn’t a lot of time out of a week. It boils down to priority and time management. If you are looking to lose weight, you may have to increase your aerobic activity.
Type of Exercise
At one time, I thought cardio was the only important thing with exercise. I later learned from a trainer that I also needed to include strength training and flexibility through stretching in my fitness regimen. Weights are one way to increase strength but using your body weight is quite affordable and cost-free. I have frequent low back pain from scoliosis, but when I do stretching and strength training at home, I notice a big difference in the level of my discomfort.
By far, the most comfortable and cheapest form of exercise is walking. It’s free and takes little effort and preparation, but if done correctly will reap good results. It is also an excellent place to start for beginners.
The biggest question is, why aren’t you doing it if you know you should? There are various reasons why many don’t, including lack of time, little or no motivation, no energy, and the demands of life.
Here are a few suggestions to help eliminate excuses for not exercising:
Try daily exercises at home, such as walking, gardening, or videos.
Wear a device that counts how many steps you are taking per day. I use the Fitbit Inspire and significantly increase my movement during the day. I give myself personal challenges.
Have an accountability partner or an exercise buddy.
Hire a personal trainer.
Participate in group fitness activities.
Everyone needs exercise. It is one of the best ways to prevent illness, improve health, and slow aging.