It may be age-old advice but it’s still the best advice: To look and feel better through the years, it’s critical to eat right and be physically active. In fact, the health benefits of exercise for women influence almost every aspect of our health.
We’ve never found that proverbial fountain of youth (and we’ll all want to have stock in the pharmaceutical company that can develop an anti-aging pill!), but finding a way to be consistently physically active throughout life may be the closest we can get
Regular exercise can help us to feel and look better, have more energy and perhaps even live longer! As we get older, the benefits of exercise become especially important.
Around age 45, we start to lose about 10 percent of our lean muscle tissue, or about one-third to one-half a pound of muscle, every 10 years.
Our lean muscle tissue is what drives metabolism, which means that as we lose it, our metabolic rate slows and makes us more likely to gain weight over the years. Lean muscle loss also leads to loss of strength, which can affect our ability to carry out our day-to-day activities as we age. Regular physical activity, including strength training, can help us preserve our muscle tissue as we age.
As a bonus, regular physical activity carries with it a whole host of benefits above and beyond helping us to manage weight and preserve strength. Research has shown us that exercise combats chronic diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes, and osteoporosis. It may even help reduce the risk for certain cancers.
Regular exercise can also strengthen the heart and lungs and improve circulation. We need these systems in our bodies to continue working well as we age so that we have the stamina to perform chores and errands without getting fatigued and winded. With regular exercise, we’ll also be able to fall asleep more easily and sleep more deeply and enjoy a more rewarding sex life (thanks to improved circulation and overall fitness).
For those suffering from anxiety, mood disorders, seasonal affective disorder and good old-fashioned stress, exercise stimulates the brain chemicals that leave us feeling happy and relaxed after a workout. Research has shown an association between exercise and reduced feelings of depression and anxiety. Regular activity can also boost our self-esteem and give us pride of accomplishment -- think about how great it feels after a long walk or a day spent working in the garden or completing a challenging exercise class. If we can find ways to work regular physical activity into our lives, we give ourselves the absolute best weight-gain-fighting, strength-and-stamina-increasing, disease-fighting, and mood-elevating “prescription” for looking and feeling well through the years!