Exercise at every age has its benefits!

By Dr. Karla Vital
April 12, 2018

As someone who didn't always love to exercise, I can relate when my patients ask me if exercise has to be a part of their weight loss prescription. In fact, there are programs out there that do not require exercise. Some may even be successful, especially in the short term. However, studies from the National Registry for Weight Control showed that over 90% of people who maintained their weight loss, incorporated regular physical activity. Although there is no “one size fits all”, 150-200 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise each week is recommended by the World Health Organization to maintain overall health and fitness. Weight loss is the #1 reason why most of my patients incorporate exercise, but there are so many other important reasons. I will focus on a few of the other health benefits, and discuss why exercise should be included in your prescription for great health. Hopefully this will provide enough motivation to kick start your fitness program. The best news is that it's never too late to get started. In fact, my Mother became a fan of Zumba in her 70’s, and continues to take on the challenge of learning new dance moves each weekend. Here are five other great reasons to kick start your routine.

  1. Exercise can help you become more social. There is an old saying, "misery loves company". Even if you don't love it, focus on finding something that you like just enough. It is a myth that you must "fall in love" with a sport, activity, or exercise class. Sometimes, the idea of knowing that other people are waiting on you in class, is enough to make sure that you don't cancel your workout. Also, hearing about someone else's fitness journey may be great motivation to begin or keep going.
  2. Exercise improves your mood. Researchers have studied the effects of exercise on a variety of mental health conditions. They have consistently found that exercise helps to lessen the symptoms of depression, anxiety, ADHD, and can also provide stress relief. Just remember to hang in there. Sometimes the happy feelings don't occur until the workout is over.
  3. Exercise helps you live longer. Strengthening and conditioning your heart by repeat activity translates to a lower risk of heart disease, which is the #1 killer in men and women. So, who doesn't want to enjoy a few extra years? Especially if you can move around and maintain your independence. A little extra time on the treadmill now, will translate into a few extra years later.
  4. Exercise helps to lower your risk of dementia. A new study from Sweden published this year showed that middle aged women who were "highly fit", lowered their risk of developing Alzheimer's by nearly 90% compared to their sedentary counterparts. Exercise is definitely wonderful for the brain. It enlarges the hippocampus, which is the area of the brain mainly responsible for long-term memory.
  5. Exercise can help to lower our risk for injury. Strengthening your bones and muscles is very important, especially as we age. Most of our bone density is built during our late teens, and we have reached our peak bone mass by age 30. Stronger bones help to reduce our risk for osteoporosis, and fractures. Exercise helps to maintain muscle mass, which declines greatly with age. Therefore, adding strength training can help to prevent age related decline.

In summary, don't be afraid to try out a new form of physical activity. Just remember to consult your Medical Doctor before beginning a strenuous activity program, especially if you have an underlying medical condition (such as cardiac disease) or may be pregnant. Dr. Karla Vital is a Board Certified Nephrologist and Bariatric Medicine Physician who is accepting new patients at Vital Health and Wellness Center in Houston, Texas. She is also now able to see patients via telemedicine. Please call to schedule an appointment, Follow on Twitter @drkarlavital, on Facebook @vitalhealthandwellness, or Leave a comment below.

* All information subject to change. Images may contain models. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.