Age may be “nothing but a number,” but we’re all at the mercy of Father Time. While we can’t stop getting older, we can be proactive now and prevent debilitating age-related diseases later in life. No matter if you’re 20 years old or 65 years old, exercise is proven to be a deterrent against diabetes, heart disease and even some cancers.
The next time you have to choose between "World of Warcraft" and a walk in the park with Fido, you bet your healthy life you should choose the latter.
According to the Alzheimer's Association, aerobic exercise improves oxygen consumption, which benefits brain function and has been found to reduce brain cell loss in the elderly. Activities that involve using your brain — like plotting your route, observing traffic signals and making choices — are even better for brain health. Start signing up for those obstacle races!
The National Cancer Institute says physical activity is associated with a reduced risk of colon and breast cancer. Several studies also have reported links between physical activity and a reduced risk of cancers of the prostate, lung and endometrial cancer.
The American College of Sports Medicine and the American Diabetes Association say that an active lifestyle improves blood-glucose control and can prevent or delay Type 2 diabetes, along with positively impacting lipids, blood pressure, cardiovascular events, mortality and quality of life.
Exercise helps lower the bad cholesterol that leads to heart disease and raises the good cholesterol that protects against heart disease. It also reduces inflammation in the body, which can cause damage to blood vessels in the heart, and makes it more difficult for blood to clot and cause blockage of the coronary arteries.
Sports-related injuries to a joint can damage cartilage over time and lead to osteoarthritis. We’re not saying you should stop playing your favorite sport; just make sure you protect your joints and strengthen the surrounding muscles to prevent injury.
Light to moderate exercise can help strengthen your muscles and reduce joint pain and stiffness, according to WebMD. For example, if your quads are weak, you may be more likely to get arthritis of the knee.
The National Osteoporosis Foundation says that weight-bearing and muscle-strengthening exercises are important for building and maintaining bone density — aka the amount and thickness of your bones.
High-impact weight-bearing exercises — such as jogging or running, jump rope, dancing and high-impact aerobics — help build bones and keep them strong. Muscle-strengthening workouts — such as weightlifting, exercises using your own body weight and functional fitness — strengthen your muscles, which will help you avoid injury.