It’s generally accepted that exercise is beneficial and promotes health and fitness. But as you age the benefits of remaining active play a greater role in your quality of life.
When you’re into your 40s, the downside that sedentary job or inactive lifestyle start to add up and relying on a youthful body to shrug off the indulgent behaviour is a non-starter.
So exercise is the way to go, but what exactly do you get for the effort you put in? These are the top 10 reasons to help motivate you to get up out of that sofa and start moving!
#1 – Manage your weight
Moderate physical activity has been shown to help maintain or reduce weight.
That means a small amount of regular exercise, say 5 times per week, keeps the body in reasonable shape without resorting to radical changes to your diet. Seems like a pretty good deal!
The benefits of reducing your weight are many. It is perhaps the most important aspect of your health and is linked, in part, to many of the other benefits in this list.
#2 – Mental clarity and emotional stability
Health body, health mind, or so the saying goes.
Regular exercise will do wonderers for your brain with improved mental clarity because increased activity boosts dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin levels which help increase focus.
You may even be able to improve your memory and reduce the risk of mental decline later in life. It’s been shown that regular exercise may promote growth in the hippocampus, which could preserve or promote mental function as you age.
The endorphins released during and after exercise also help alleviate depression and anxiety. You’ll get a regular shot of well-being and mood enhancing chemicals!
#3 – Reduced risk of chronic disease
You can have all the riches and success in the world, but if you don’t have your health, you have nothing.
The risk of chronic disease shortening or destroying your quality of life is much increased by poor health habits. These diseases don’t magically appear when you are in your 60s or 70s. If you are in your 40s or 50s and inactive, you’re probably working on them now.
The list is long and frightening, but included among them are type 2 diabetes and the associated aliments, cardiovascular disease, stroke, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, cancer of the bladder, colon, breast, kidney, lung, stomach, etc.
These diseases are much easier to avoid through exercise and good nutrition that they are to get rid of once you have them.
#4 – Better sleep
Both quality and quantity of sleep can be positively effected by exercise.
You are likely to achieve a deeper, more restful sleep if you are physically active – That type of sleep supports improved immunity and can help with stress management.
Physical activity will also tire you out, so the amount of time you spend asleep will potentially increase, which can help you wake up feeling fully refreshed.
As always, these benefits don’t work in isolation. Better sleep is also a factor in weight control, maintaining heart health and more.
#5 – Looking great
This has got to be among the goals of most people who take their health serious at whatever age. It stands to reason that if you reduce your weight, improve sleep and nutrition, manifest body positive emotions, it’s going to show on the outside.
It’s said that exercise give people a healthy glow. Your general physique, skin and body tone are all affected by your general well-being and exercise is a major contributor to that.
People in their 40s and 50s who take up exercise and a healthy lifestyle can find themselves achieving better levels of fitness than they had in their 30s. And there is certainly something attractive about a person who takes care of themselves.
#6 – Longer life
There are many factors that affect life expectancy, but study after study has shown that just 30 minutes of moderate exercise each day can significantly influence life span.
An AAPR study found that subjects, even if inactive when young, achieved a 35% reduction in the probability of an early death if they started and maintained a regular exercise routine in their 40s and 50s.
But it’s not just about life-span – Your “health-span” is the amount of time you remain in good health, which is probably more important because it’s a measure of how long you remain physically and mental able.
Exercise can certainly affect the length of your life, but it is critical in extending the amount of life you can fully enjoy doing what you want to do.
#7 – Increased energy
It sounds counterintuitive, but doing regular exercise can significantly increase the level of energy you have for everyday activities.
Getting started with exercise can be a challenge if you don’t feel particularly energetic, but you just need to kick start the process – Once you get going you’ll start to feel the benefit pretty quickly.
When you exercise your cardiovascular system’s efficiency improves, oxygen and nutrients circulating in your blood stream is given a boost and hormones are released that help you feel more energised. All of that puts a spring in your step!
#8 – Improved flexibility
Every routine should include some exercises that focus on flexibility and range of motion.
Whether your preference is walking, jogging, lifting weights or body weight training such as calisthenics, you will need to do some stretching to prepare and protect your muscles. This will help you maintain or improve flexibility, which is very important for your body’s overall mobility.
It’s also worth considering yoga, or other activities that specifically support improved flexibility.
#9 – Strengthen and build muscle
You start losing between 3% and 8% of your muscle mass each decade after the age of 30.
It’s that loss of muscle that is a key contributor to disability later in life. Your muscle mass, to a large extent, determines you basal metabolic rate, or how many calories your body uses when doing nothing. Less muscle means less calories are burned and, if your diet remains the same, more calories that get stored as fat.
Strength oriented exercise like lifting weights (or your body weight) can offset or even reverse this muscle loss. In fact, if you are in your 50s, strength training is probably the best for of exercise you can do.
#10 – Better sex
What are you going to do with that toned body, extra energy, flexibility and positive mood? Well, exercise boosts sex drive in both men and women.
Studies published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine show strong links between the rate of reported sexual dysfunction and excess weight.
If you are a man, the increase in testosterone produced as a result of getting in shape should give your performance a kick! Women should find that regular exercise increases desire and arousal.
Whether a man or woman, who wouldn’t benefit for a large serving of self-confidence too!
The case for keeping in shape, or getting in shape, in your 40s and 50s is pretty compelling. If ageing well isn’t your main concern right now, you get a bunch of benefit right now and a whole lot more later.
The question I ask myself is, how much would I pay for any one of those benefits. Investing a bit of time in some physical activity and you get them all for free.
You don’t need to go from zero to 150 minutes per week. Why not start by building a walk into your daily routine and later you can add some body weight strength exercises later on.
Do that and give some thought to your nutrition, and you should be adding years of quality life to your health-span.
We are working to provide you with a range of resources specifically targeted at helping people who are 40 plus create some healthy habits, so check out our exercise and nutrition guides.
As always, it’s wise to consult your physician before