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How exercise can change your life and outlook

by Amanda Lambert | Contributor
Jan 21, 2020


Exercise is one of those words that can strike fear into people. As you get older, consider retirement, or continue working, your health is the bedrock of success. Without a foundation of health and well-being, aging and retirement will be fraught with expense, stress and uncertainty. The good news is that improving your health is possible at any age. No great achievement happens without small steps and exercise is no exception.

Why exercise is so important

The research on aging and the importance of exercise is overwhelming. One way to make the concept of exercise more accessible is to consider MOVEMENT. Movement of any kind is important, whether it is in the garden, playing with the grandkids or walking a distance from your car to the store. Let’s take a look at why exercise is so important.

  • Improved mood. Exercise has been shown to reduce the risk of depression, even for people who are genetically predisposed to depression. This recent research article in The New York Times proves this. Walking an hour a day has been shown to have a protective effect against depression.
  • Increases in strength and balance reducing risk of falls. Falls are the leading cause of disability in people over the age of 65. Muscle loss does not have to be inevitable as we age. This recent article talks about the muscle tissue of older men who exercise resembling that of 25-year-olds!
  • Better memory. Exercise has been shown to improve cognition and thinking skills. Many studies have suggested that the parts of the brain that control thinking and memory are larger in volume in people who exercise than in people who don't. Even the benefit of better sleeping and reduction of anxiety and stress can improve cognition.
  • Opportunities for social connection. Whether you go to a gym or connect with a friend to exercise together, social connection improves well-being and mood. If you are retired, maintaining social connections becomes more important than ever.
  • Maintenance of motor skills. Exercise helps preserve activities of daily living like dressing and bathing. We can sometimes take for granted all of the movement required in a day to stay independent. If you have had the experience of breaking a bone, you quickly realize the impact this makes on day-to-day functioning. Someone who has a good foundation of strength and endurance will recover more quickly.
  • Improved sleep. Sleep allows for regeneration of cognitive function and helps to maintain energy levels throughout the day.

How to get started

Most people are overwhelmed by the thought of incorporating exercise into their lives. The adage “start low and go slow” is a good place to start. This will reduce the chance of injury and improve your chances of staying with it. Check with your physician to make sure you there are no medical precautions to consider

Start with something you like.
If you don’t enjoy aerobic classes, don’t do them! Pick one or more activities that appeal to you.

Senior man getting personal exercise training

Exercise classes.
Most senior centers, recreation centers and gyms have exercise classes focused on older adults. This is a great way to get off on the right foot with trained instructors who won’t push too hard.

Consider a personal trainer.
If funds allow, hiring a qualified personal trainer can be a life saver. They can tailor exercises to someone’s specific needs. But expect to pay between $50 and $100 an hour or more depending on where you live. If you live near a university, they will often offer student personal trainers at a reduced cost.

Walks are a valuable and simple way to incorporate movement into your life. Try to walk every day, even if it means parking farther away to get some steps in.

Consider a Fitbit or Apple Watch.
Some people like to keep track of their activity. There are several options that can keep you motivated and on track.

Exercise videos.
If you prefer the privacy of your own home, start with a beginner exercise video. For people with physical limitations, there are numerous options for chair exercises.

Challenges and how to overcome them

Who has the time to start a program when you are working, a caregiver or a parent? The simple answer: make time. Exercise is that important. Even 15-30 minutes a day is a good goal. This may mean asking for help with the endless tasks of life in order to find time for yourself or someone else. Let your family know that this is now your “part-time job” and you will need their support.

The unfamiliarity of exercise can make the prospect seem overwhelming. As with anything else in life, tackle this problem acknowledging that you will be uncomfortable. It will pass as you become more familiar. Ask for help from friends who exercise or staff at the gym.

Gym memberships can be expensive. United Medicare Advantage plans have discontinued their gym membership benefit. But most Medicare plans have not. County recreation centers are very affordable. Try a video. Anne Pringle Burnell is widely respected for her exercises tailored to older adults or people just getting started. Take a look at her collection here. Consider that the financial investment that you make is part of your retirement plan. The money you spend now could potentially save you thousands later.

Everyone has challenges with motivation. Even the most seasoned athletes. Beginning an exercise routine takes hard work, perseverance and commitment. It means doing something even when you don’t feel like it. Schedule your workouts in your day planner or phone. Set an alert. Read empowering articles about the benefits of exercise to help keep you motivated.

Good health is the foundation of a successful, productive and happy life. Planning for the future means making changes starting today. Exercise, diet, purpose and social engagement are the building blocks of good health. Start your movement today and you will be well on your way to a better future.

Alliance America can help

Alliance America is an insurance and financial services company. Our financial planners and retirement income certified professionals can assist you in maximizing your retirement resources and help you to achieve your future goals. We have access to an array of products and services, all focused on helping you enjoy the retirement lifestyle you want and deserve. You can request a no-cost, no-obligation consultation by calling (833) 219-6884 today.

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