Aging is an inevitable part of life, but you can age gracefully and maintain a healthy, active lifestyle well into your later years. Staying active and exercising regularly are the foundations for living a long and healthy life. It is no surprise that caged animals have more health problems and a shorter life span than free-range animals. Humans are no different! Research shows that the more active humans are, the longer they tend to live. Being lazy can actually shorten our life, so get moving!
If you are not already on an exercise regime or if you have a busy schedule, getting started on a work-out schedule can seem like a daunting task. However, there are many chances to exercise throughout the day without having to devote a block of time to one particular gym or class. Try taking the stairs instead of the elevator, parking your car several blocks away from your destination, or even sweeping your floor with a broom instead of a vacuum. Every bit of physical exercise adds up and can get your muscles working!
Work-Out For Your Bones
As people age, their bones can become brittle and lose calcium, leading to the development of osteoporosis. The majority of the population of the age of 70 can be affected by this condition, but the good news is that it can be prevented, or for those already suffering, treated. No matter how much additional calcium and vitamin D people take, without activities that exert weight on the bones, it will prove useless. This doesn’t mean you have to become a weight lifter, however; moderate weight-bearing exercises such as walking are sufficient to help restore calcium to the bones.
Make It Social
Even if you start an exercise regime, you aren’t going to stick with it if you don’t enjoy the activity, and consistency is key. Try to find exercises that interest you or that you can use as a bonding activity with your family or friends. A water aerobics class can be a great and fun way to incorporate a work-out during the warmer months, while still providing proper resistance for your bones and an excellent cardiovascular exercise for your heart. If you need help relaxing during your week, try a Tai Chi or Qi Gong class to reduce stress and enhance your circulation while providing a gentle exercise for your body.
Enjoy A Ride
If you are looking for a way to stay active while being in the great outdoors, pick up a bike! Not only is it a great exercise, but it is easy on your joints and can even improve your blood pressure. The act of pedaling a bicycle increases blood circulation to the lower body, especially your legs and feet, which helps to lower blood pressure. Keeping blood pressure in range (below 130 systolic and 90 diastolic) is key to the prevention of strokes, heart disease, and kidney ailments. In a group of middle-aged people, bicycling for 60 minutes, three times a week showed an average drop in blood pressure of 13 points after 10 weeks.
Warm-Up And Cool Down
Don’t stop after you are done with your workout! Many of my patients injure themselves engaging in even gentle disciplines like yoga and Pilates, because they don’t take the time to properly warm up before exercise or to cool down afterward. Our muscles get cold and stiff from even brief stints of sitting or lying down. I advise gentle stretching and warming your body with proper clothing or heat packs before you begin exercising. Many gyms and health clubs have saunas, which are an excellent way to warm up before an exercise session. Afterward, cool your muscles with a shower or use a cold pack, especially on areas where you feel muscle or joint pain.
Live long, live strong, and live healthy!
Dr. Mao Shing Ni, best known as Dr. Mao is a bestselling author, doctor of Oriental Medicine and board certified anti-aging expert. He has appeared regularly on “Dr. Oz,” “The Doctors,” and “EXTRA.” Dr. Mao practices acupuncture, nutrition, and Chinese medicine with his associates at the Tao of Wellness in Santa Monica and Newport Beach. Dr. Mao and his brother, Dr. Daoshing Ni founded Tao of Wellness more than 25 years ago in addition to also founding Yo San University in Marina del Rey. To subscribe to his tip-filled newsletter please visit www.taoofwellness.com. To make an appointment for evaluation and treatment please call 310.917.2200 or you can email Dr. Mao at [email protected]