The thought of adding more activity to your day may seem daunting, but the benefits of fitness for longevity can’t be denied. While there is no magic elixir that delays aging, increasing your daily physical activity can have a profound impact on your longevity.

On January 24th, 2022, JAMA Internal Medicine published a study in which the health—and occasional death—of over 4,800 adults aged 40 to 85, was tracked over a span of 10 years. The results indicated that increasing activity by 10 minutes a day was associated with a 7% drop in the number of deaths per year, with more activity producing better longevity overall.

Regular exercise is also proven to reduce the risk of developing dementia by about 28 per cent, ramping up to 45 per cent for Alzheimer’s specifically.

Doing some exercise is better than none at all, but not all exercise is geared toward enhancing longevity. Choosing to walk to work is a great start, however a regular routine made up of different types of exercise will not only enhance your longevity, but also improve your physical health and boost your mood to boot.

Three Key Benefits of Regular Exercise

There are many benefits to indulging in regular exercise, but let’s have a look at the three biggest, all of which contribute to longevity:

  1. Weight control. Any physical activity you take part in burns calories. The greater the intensity of your activity, the greater the potential for weight management or loss.
  2. Health improvement. Regular exercise combats heart disease, metabolic syndrome, depression, high blood pressure, cognitive decline, anxiety, and more. No matter what form it takes, exercise boosts your high-density lipoproteins (good cholesterol), while decreasing nasty triglycerides, helping keep your arteries clear and your blood pumping smoothly.
  3. Better sleep. The body heals and restores itself while you sleep, so getting optimal sleep quality is important in attaining body fitness for longevity. Exercise can not only improve the quality of your sleep, but also help you fall asleep faster once your head hits the pillow.

And let’s be real here; when you exercise regularly you look better and feel better.  You will simply have that extra, more youthful spring in your step.

Adding regular fitness into your routine should include several different ways of getting the levels of activity you need. This might include a combination of medium to high-intensity activities such as a cardio activity (e.g. cycling, running, speed walking, swimming) , strength training (bodyweight or using external weights), stretching (e.g. yoga) , and pursuits like tennis, skiing or hiking.

Alone, each of these is a sound starting place for taking care of your body as you get older, but when allowed to work together on the body and mind, having a variety of physical activities can have an optimal effect on your longevity. After all, how much good are you really doing, if you exercise your muscles but pay no attention to the health of your heart and lungs?

Top Six Exercises to Promote Healthy Aging

Aside from your everyday activities, like taking the stairs, walking to work or doing housekeeping, you may be wondering how to introduce a regular exercise routine into your already busy life.

It isn’t as hard as you might think! Here are six accessible and affordable exercises to try solo, or with family or friends:

1. Walking

As one of the simplest exercises to promote exercise for longevity, the act of going for a walk is highly underrated.

Walking is a gentle way to improve your cardiovascular health, as well as lower the risk of diabetes and many other conditions. Invite a neighbour or friend to join you for the added social benefit.

2. Swimming

Swimming uses your entire body, and gives you a good cardio workout, so it makes for an excellent, low-impact total-body workout that is refreshing and doesn’t take a long time. 

    Water aerobics is a great way to tackle fitness in the pool if you’re not keen on swimming. Read our article on the physical and mental benefits of swimming.

    3. Aerobics

    Aerobics combines strength training with flexibility and cardiovascular exercise, so it offers a sort of total-package workout. Aerobics also helps improve your cognitive function over time, controls your blood sugar levels, boosts your heart health and more. 

      Just take one look at Jane Fonda, who at the age of 85 says she still does her famous aerobics routine every day (modified for her age) to stay in shape. 

      Like Jane, you can do aerobics in the comfort of your own home using resources like YouTube or a fitness app. If you enjoy the social aspect, head to your nearest gym to ask about in-person fitness classes.

      4. Running

      A daily run is a great way to improve your cardiovascular fitness, thereby lowering your risk of heart disease and cancer. Running also improves your circulation, increases bone density and strengthens your muscles.

        It’s important to note that not everyone is a runner. People with overuse injuries, mechanical problems or other health conditions may find that running is not for them. Check with your doctor before starting a running program, and make sure you ramp up gradually if you do.

        5. Bicycling

        Biking is an accessible way to get social and health benefits at the same time. Cycling can also reduce body fat, improve your strength, and enhance your respiratory system

          Make sure you wear a helmet and cycle safely in traffic; the last thing you want is to get all the great benefits of cycling, only to injure your head.

          6. Dancing

          While dancing may not seem at first glance to be exercise, the fact is that it has been shown to have a positive impact on older adults’ flexibility, muscular strength and endurance, balance, cardiovascular endurance, cognitive function, mood and overall functional fitness.

            Dance in the privacy of your own home or head on out to your nearest salsa class or favourite club with a dance floor. Either way, you’ll get exercise for longevity and have a fantastic time while you’re doing it.

            For many people, getting fit may seem like a daunting task that is no fun at all, but it doesn’t have to be that way. The tricky bit is getting started and finding the kind of exercise you enjoy. Once you’ve gotten over that hurdle, you’ll start feeling better, stronger, and more able to enjoy your current and later years in physical and mental wellness.

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