Take the Time to Walk
One of the crazy things about aging is that so much is happening to our body and our brain that we can’t see. The realization that we just can’t move as well as before, or it is hard to get out of a chair, or our balance just isn’t what it used to be - can be daunting. How did this even happen?
Unfortunately, we don’t give our lifestyle a lot of thought as we are moving through the years. Sure, we might have eaten the wrong foods or watched too much TV but that didn’t seem to make a difference at the time. But like any precision instrument, the wear and tear of that lifestyle takes its toll on our bodies and our brains. That leaves the question – is it too late to live a healthy lifestyle?
It is never too late to change bad habits into positive life skills. We need to understand that our bodies have changed and operate a little differently than when we were younger. Metabolism (the mechanism of using sugar and fat for energy) slows down. If we are not active, we don’t burn that sugar and fat; it results in weight gain and no energy. It becomes a vicious cycle – we are too tired to do anything, and our body and brain pay the price.
Time to Get Up and Move
So, this is the first big lifestyle change: we need to get up and move. Find a partner to hold you accountable. It is always more fun when you exercise with someone. Take time for the two of you to start walking. This exercise doesn’t need any fancy clothes or equipment. It just needs you to walk about 30-40 minutes per day for 4-5 days per week. The benefits for walking are huge!
It is a weight-bearing exercise, so you are strengthening your bones. If you have osteoporosis, then this is a huge benefit. You are strengthening your legs, knees, ankles and feet. If you challenge yourself by walking on uneven ground – you are challenging your vestibular system – otherwise known as your vestibular system. Our vestibular gets weaker as we get older. That puts us at a high risk for falls. And you are helping your heart. When you walk your heart starts pumping harder. That gets your circulation moving. One of the main beneficiaries of walking is your brain. When the heart starts pumping more blood – more blood goes to your brain. The brain needs 20% of the oxygen, carbohydrates and blood from each and every heartbeat. The brain uses these nutrients to produce the energy we need to think and function. And one more brain benefit: The blood, oxygen and carbohydrates the heart is pumping to the brain stimulates the brain to make new neurons (brain cells). We can start to turn those aging losses around. If you can’t walk to get these benefits go swimming, ride a bike or participate in chair exercises.
It is never too late to change your lifestyle.