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The Secret To

Staying Youthful?

Debbie Schroeder RN, BSN
Professional Health Coach

Would you like to feel less stressed? Would you like to have more energy? Would you like to live a long healthy life?

When asked these questions most people say YES. Who wouldn't want to be more relaxed, have more energy and live a long healthy life? One secret to having all of this in your life and feeling youthful is physical activity. You have probably heard the saying "if you don't use it, you lose it". This is so true with your mind and body.

We live in a society of convenience, drive through lanes, escalators and elevators, we can push a button on our computer and have things instantly at our fingertips instead of walking across the hall to talk with someone and so on. Our bodies were meant to move, many of us live lives that don't require us to move much at all. If this is you, it is up to you to make a conscious effort to add movement back into your day.

Did you know people over the age of 45 begin to lose 1% of their muscle mass per year? People often wonder why they gain weight as they reach middle age when their diet has not changed. One reason for this is one pound of muscle burns 35 to 50 calories where one pound of fat burns only 2 to 3 calories. If you are gradually losing muscle mass, your metabolism will slow down and you will carry more weight and fat.

The way to reverse this loss of muscle mass is to remain physically active. According to Lawrence Golding, PhD. director of exercise physiology at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, says as we age, body fat doesn't have to increase nor flexibility and strength decrease. In fact, much of the "aging" is due to just sitting around. His research compared participants who had been in his exercise class for twenty years with that of the normal population. His class had body fat averages of 20% compared with the average of 26%. In addition, regular stretching wiped out any loss of flexibility with age.

The most common excuse I hear for not exercising is lack of time. This is an interesting excuse. The recommended amount of exercise is 30 to 60 minutes of moderate exercise. To put this in perspective, if you exercise 30 minutes per day that is only a small part of your day. You still have the other 23.5 hours of your day for sleep, work, family life, social life etc. Most people do have the time, but you have resistance to exercise. The secret is to find something you will enjoy so that you stick with it.

Once people find the physical activity they enjoy and exercise on a consistent basis you will eventually find you have more time in your day. In reality we all have the same 24 hours, but when you are physically fit you have more energy and more mental clarity and are able to get less done in more time.

The secret to staying young is to think and act young. Have fun with your physically activity. Mix it up. Do you enjoy dancing, gardening, jogging, walking, swimming, biking, yoga, strength training, roller skating, playing sports?

The rewards to exercise are many, here are just a few:

  • Keeps you looking young
  • Slows the aging process
  • Reduces stress, anxiety and depression
  • Improves sleep
  • Improves concentration and focus
  • Increases your energy level
  • Helps to maintain a healthy weight
  • Decrease the risk of heart disease and cancer risk
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Improves bone density
  • Boosts immune system

Would you like to receive these benefits? Make a commitment to yourself to start to be more physically active. You will want to check with your doctor to ensure there are no restrictions to your activity level. Once you have the green light from your doctor start to slowly find ways to get active. You can start by simply taking a walk on your lunch breaks, dancing around your house, doing some stretches during commercial breaks, playing ball with your kids.

Start to focus on all the benefits to being physically active and notice how your attitude shifts about physical activity. It may take a while to develop this new habit, be patient and consistent and you too can become a physically active youthful person.


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