Once upon a time, later life was when we were able to ‘let it all go’ but now we know that there are a ton of brilliant reasons to keep fit and well throughout our lives.
Exercise releases endorphins and helps manage Serotonin. With an increasing number of older women taking anti-depressants, it is worth knowing that half an hour of exercise a day, done early in the morning can be as effective in managing moderate symptoms as SSRIs.
Improved bone density:
Once we hit menopause our bone density decreases leaving us at risk of fractures and reduced movement. However, it has been found that weight-bearing activities can dramatically improve your bone density.
All exercise is not equal though. Jumping 10 to 20 times a day with 30 seconds of rest between each jump provides greater bone-building benefits than running or jogging, according to research out of Brigham Young University, in Provo, Utah.
Even if you’ve never worked out, a programme of weight lifting 2 – 3 times a week can transform your bone density. See a professional and don’t worry about bulking out – you won’t.
Heart and Blood Health:
The American Heart Association recommends 30 minutes of moderate activity, five times a week to reduce the risks of heart attacks and strokes associated with ageing. It also helps to lower levels of bad cholesterol in the blood, although researchers are entirely sure why.
Not only is exercise a great mood booster, there is research to suggest it can help manage the symptoms of dementia significantly. A recent study found that focused workouts like Tai Chi, for example, helped dementia sufferers improve cognitive function, so were able to manage tasks that maintain independence like dressing, using the toilet and cooking, for much longer.
Given that loneliness is considered as deadly as smoking, it makes sense that exercise would be an antidote. Workout classes surround you with people, take your mind off worries and keep you fit. You could join a walking club, a Zumba class, martial arts, or whatever you enjoy. Being fitter will also help you feel more confident in yourself, making meeting new people less intimidating.
Contrary to popular belief you don’t have to gain weight during menopause, although ageing does make it harder to shift belly fat. Strength training is great for declining muscle mass and yoga is known for being excellent at managing hot flashes, mood swings and concentration issues.
Managing Type 2 Diabetes:
People with type 2 diabetes have too much glucose in their blood, either because their body doesn’t produce enough insulin to process it, or because they have become insulin resistant.
In both cases, exercise can reduce the glucose in your blood. Muscles can use glucose without insulin when you’re exercising. In other words, it doesn’t matter if you’re insulin resistant or if you don’t have enough insulin: when you exercise, your muscles get the glucose they need, and in turn, your blood glucose level goes down.
If you’re insulin resistant, exercise makes your insulin more effective, because insulin resistance goes down when you exercise, letting your cells use glucose more effectively.
There you have it. Even if you’ve never worked out and feel totally self-conscious there’s something you can do to feel better – walking, running, yoga, dancing, keep fit videos, martial arts – age is no barrier to trying any of them.
The NHS suggests you need 150 minutes of moderate activity and two sessions of strengthening exercise a week – what you choose is up to you. Just make sure to have a check with your doctor before beginning a new regime and away you go!