By Dr. Nora DeVoe, Ph.D.
Geriatric Care Manager


Resolution 2018: Increase Quality of Life Through the Benefits of Exercise

Happy New Year and Happy Resolutions to stay healthy, eat better, and get exercise! This is the annual booster to remind us all about the benefits of regular exercise and physical activity. The likelihood of aging as a factor in diabetes, propensity for falls, heart attacks, and strokes has been shown to be dramatically reduced by a program of regular exercise. The inevitable physical decline caused by the aging process can be slowed by moderate but regular exercise. When exercise is practiced on a daily basis, it can bring rich health rewards. Improvements in mindset, motivation, and mobility can help to ensure quality and length of life for all.

Therefore, here are just a few benefits to remind us again why we should resolve to get regular exercise.

1. Weight loss- as we age, body muscle is slowly replaced by fat. This process cannot be halted, but it can be decelerated by exercise. The calories burned by exercise also help to reduce the accumulation of fat around the abdomen that is an inevitable consequence of aging.

2. Protection from diabetes- exercise has been shown to play an important role in limiting the complications of diabetes mellitus and to exert a protective influence on those at risk of developing non-insulin dependent diabetes.

3. Easing bone loss- osteoporosis, which affects more than five percent of the population, is a form of bone atrophy in which the bones thin to such an extent that fractures easily occur. Studies have shown that weight bearing exercise works to counteract the thinning effect, achieving greater bone mass and lessening the risk of fractures considerably. Exercise is also beneficial in reducing pain from osteoarthritis.

4. Reducing risk of falls- exercise improves balance and gait, increases muscle strength and endurance, and enhances joint mobility, all of which reduce the risk of falls.

5. A stronger heart- regular exercise at any age strengthens the heart, making it more efficient. It pumps more blood, increasing volume, which ensures that blood is circulated efficiently to every part of the body. Cholesterol levels are reduced and blood pressure is lowered. Regular exercise reduces the risk of heart attack, and also the risk of death following a heart attack. People who do not exercise are three times more likely to die after a heart attack than those who do. Lack of physical activity also triples the likelihood of stroke.

6. Reducing blood fats- a moderate amount of exercise has a positive effect on the blood lipids (fats) which play a large part in heart and artery disease. It helps to reduce the dangerous fats and produce a favorable lipid profile, which decreases the potential for cardiovascular disease.

7. Increased longevity- regular exercise and activity can increase longevity significantly in people over 60 years of age, either with or without heart and artery disease.

8. Improved mental health- exercise benefits both mind and body. There is now sound evidence of a positive association between regular physical activity and reduced rates of age related mental health disorders. Regular physical activity appears to improve mood and decrease stress and anxiety. This is thought to be due to the production of natural body chemicals called endorphins, which are released during exercise. These are morphine-like substances that produce feelings of pleasure and wellbeing, and have a similar effect to those produced by antidepressants.

So for all of the above and more, "Just Do It!" when it comes to exercise. Happy, Healthy New Year Everyone!!!

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Nora DeVoe is a Gerontologist specializing in Eldercare and Caregiver issues. She may be reached at (716) 667-7299.  

Dr. Nora is a ....