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Stay Active to Stay Young
03/27/2023

Maybe you love exercise, maybe you hate it - but the science all agrees, exercise helps slow and generally improve the aging process, and ensure that you stay as healthy as possible no matter your age! Fitness and health are directly linked, not only to how well we can move, but to our hormones! This means, for women, that exercise can not only affect how we age, but also how we experience menopause!

How Exercise & Aging Connected

As we age, our bodies change and our health needs change. One of the most important things we can do to ensure our health and well-being as we age is to exercise regularly - exercise is one of the key lifestyle factors that affects both how we age, and our menopause experience. It's important to understand how exercise can help us age gracefully and stay healthy; Exercise can help us maintain our youthful appearance, bone density, cholesterol levels, heart health, and more. (1) Exercise also helps us maintain our youthfulness in many ways, such as skin quality, which is directly affected by collagen and elastin, as well as muscle mass, all of which come from regular exercise. Exercise can also help us maintain our energy levels, which can help us stay more active and agile - creating a continuous loop of positive feedback, we exercise so we feel better so we exercise...

Additionally, regular exercise can help us preserve our bone density and prevent bone loss, which is a common problem associated with aging - particularly in older women. Exercise is also beneficial for heart health; Regular aerobic exercise can help us maintain our cardiovascular fitness and reduce our risk of heart disease. Exercise can help us lower our blood pressure and cholesterol levels as well, both of which can reduce our risk of stroke. Exercise can also help us reduce stress and anxiety, which can reduce our risk of heart attack. Exercising regularly can also help us maintain healthy cholesterol levels. Exercise can help us reduce our bad cholesterol (LDL) and increase our good cholesterol (HDL). This can help reduce our risk of stroke, heart attack, and other heart-related conditions.

The Role of Exercise in Menopause (& How it Affects Hormones)

Menopause is a natural part of aging and can bring changes to our bodies. Exercise can help us manage the physical and emotional changes associated with menopause. Regular exercise helps to reduce hot flashes and helps us maintain a healthy weight. It can also help us maintain our energy levels and reduce stress and anxiety. Exercise may even help us reduce the risk of osteoporosis, heart disease, and stroke. (2) Further studies have found that exercise improves gut health, which can in turn positively affect the vaginal microbiome, and improve brain health, which can reduce brain fog, improve mood, and improve sleep. (3)

What Counts as a Calorie Burner?

There are many types of exercise to choose from depending on your fitness level and interests. Some of the most popular types of exercise for older adults include walking, swimming, strength training, yoga, and Pilates. It's important to find activities that you enjoy and that fit your lifestyle. You may also want to consider hiring a personal trainer to create an exercise plan that's tailored to your needs.

In our newsletter, we have talked about some of the amazing ways you can get your sweat on, from things like Pickleball, to Zumba, to swimming, water aerobics, pilates, and more. But, remember, you don't have to be intimidated by more 'extreme' types of exercise like Crossfit - good gyms and trainers can always modify and adjust to get you started, and as this video shows, you're never too old to break out the weights!

You Can't Outrun A Bad Diet...

Whilst it can be nice to snaffle down treats post-workout, the old adage holds true (sadly - because we love cake!). When we look at those interactions, what we put into our body is arguably more important than what we do with our body. Whatever diet you like, science is slowly converging on some diet facts:

  • Eat lots and lots of fruits and vegetables! They contain key minerals, vitamins, nutrients, and fiber that are essential for our bodies to function.
  • Eat good fats - think nuts, seeds, avocados, oily fish.
  • Limit sugar and processed foods.
  • Don't be afraid of 'good' carbs, like oats, rice, whole grains, and even good breads.
  • Legumes are great, aside from providing protein, they also contain essential minerals and amino acids.
  • Don't forget fermented foods. These exist across cultures, from sauerkraut and kimchi, to different types of yogurt and even tempeh. These are great for gut health!
  • When choosing a protein source, avoid processed meats, heavily farmed meats, or fatty meats. Opt for a variety of protein sources.

Both the mediterranean diet and predominantly plant based diets have been found to be the diets that promote longevity, as found in Blue zones around the world (4).

Top Tips for Starting A Workout Routine

  1. Pick something you LIKE! - Don't pick running if you hate it, take some time to explore options. Many gyms, clubs, and classes, offer a free week or intro class. If you like what you're doing, it is easier to do on harder days.
  2. Set a schedule (and start small!) - Don't suddenly decide to run a marathon every weekend, think about making small consistent changes and additions to your movement routine, and build up. Picking a set time (like an after breakfast walk) can help develop a routine; sometimes habit wins out over everything else, so picking good habits, helps!
  3. Don't be afraid to mix things up - pickleball, swim, water aerobics, hiking, crossfit... mix it up.
  4. Find a Buddy (or a group) - this boils down to accountability... You can't leave Sally waiting on the corner, so you get your butt out there!

Exercise is an important part of staying healthy and fit as we age. Regular exercise can help us maintain our youthful appearance, bone density, cholesterol levels, heart health, and more. Whether it's walking, swimming, strength training, yoga, or Pilates, there are plenty of activities to choose from to keep us fit and healthy. It's important to start slow and gradually increase the intensity of exercise over time. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week, and include strength training exercises at least twice per week. So, grab your sneakers and take a step towards a healthier future! 🏃‍♀️😊


Footnotes:

1 - https://www.taylorfrancis.com/chapters/edit/10.1201/9781420042320-2/exercise-aging-maria-fiatarone-singh

2 - https://perspectivesinmedicine.cshlp.org/content/8/3/a029785.short

2 - https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0000465

3 - https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2095254614000386

4 - https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/15598...

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