Man with dog walking to get his regular physical exercise

5 ways physical exercise can help you combat the ageing process

Too many people seem to think that as they approach their 50s and 60s it’s too late to think about their physical fitness. They associate ageing with irresistible decline and accept the fact that they will inevitably pile on weight, lose muscle size and strength, suffer with stiff joints, and succumb to the chronic health problems they have stacked up over the years.

Of course our bodies do change physically as we age; hormone and other biological influences see to that. It’s how we cope with the effects of these changes that is key at this important stage of our lives. You probably already know that simple lifestyle modifications – increasing your physical activity, stopping smoking, cutting back on the booze and eating more healthily – will all help to combat the impact of ageing.

Regular physical exercise is essential

Physical exercise is by far the best weapon in our anti-ageing armoury. Every week new research confirms the benefits of taking up exercise for older people. For example, regular physical exercise can help you:

  • Halve your risk of stroke: according to a 28-year long Norwegian studygetting fit in your 40s and 50s can reduce your risk of stroke and other long-term health problems. Even those who haven’t exercised in a long while can dramatically improve their heart health, so it’s never too late to start.
  • Protect your heart: Canadian researchers tracked 130,000 people and found that those who do some form of exercise for 30 minutes, 5 days a week significantly reduce their risk of developing heart disease and dying early. They also found that the more people exercise, the greater the reductions in their risks of getting heart disease.
  • Reduce your risk of fractures and falls: Regular weight-bearing exercise – where you work against gravity – helps to maintain muscle strength, coordination and balance. All of these can prevent falls and related broken bones. Weight bearing exercise is especially important for older adults and people diagnosed with osteoporosis.
  • Reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes and other metabolic conditions: international research involving  middle-age healthy adults in America shows that undertaking even just 1 hour of weight-bearing exercise a week lowers the risk of developing metabolic syndrome – characterised by the presence of glucose intolerance, insulin resistance, central obesity and high blood pressure.
  • Improve your mental health: Australian researchers looking at more than 30,000 adults showed those who do not exercise are almost twice as likely to suffer with depression, compared to those who exercise for one to two hours a week.

It’s never too late to start exercising

It’s not just research studies that demonstrate the benefits of exercise. Look around you. Why do you think some of your contemporaries are looking younger, fitter and healthier? It’s because of the exercise decisions they are taking. As some of the studies above indicate, the great thing is that it’s never too late to start exercising. You’ll see benefits at any age and you’ll improve your health and quality of life. What are you waiting for?