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10 ways exercise can help keep you young

Best ways to get moving

Exercise is easier said than done for many people. To get motivated—and help keep your commitment to exercise—try these tips.

  • Set measurable and attainable goals, such as, “I’m going to exercise three times a week.”
  • Make plans stick by writing them down and telling someone about them.
  • Don’t make weight loss a goal. The results can be discouraging!
  • When you reach a goal, buy something new, like a piece of clothing or equipment for your favorite recreation.
  • Find a fitness buddy. You can encourage each other on days when exercise feels like a chore.
  • Try out different forms of exercise until you find something you like.
  • Make working out a priority, with its own time slot in your day. Choose a realistic time: Don’t set your clock for 5 a.m. if you’re not a morning person.
  • Make exercise inescapable. Put your workout clothes in plain sight. Block your view of the television with exercise equipment.
  • Don’t try too much too soon. Talk to your healthcare provider before beginning a routine to see what level of fitness is right for you.

The human body is the only machine that wears out faster from lack of use than from use. By the same token, regular exercise can help you retain the vitality of youth into later years and could even extend your lifespan. Exercise also:

  1. Keeps your mind and memory sharp. Exercise improves short-term memory and reasoning skills in people older than 55.
  2. Helps control your weight. By building muscle, you’ll burn more calories even at rest, which will help you minimize the weight gain that’s common in middle age and beyond.
  3. Protects your cardiovascular system. The physically fit are eight times less likely to die from heart attacks or strokes. Working out also lowers a person’s risk of hypertension by as much as half.
  4. Helps you beat stress-related disorders. Tension has a way of evaporating along with your sweat. That’s good, because stress is linked to insomnia, heart disease, headaches, back pain and colitis.
  5. Gives you greater freedom of movement. Exercisers are less stiff, have better balance and agility and are less apt to be injured in a fall.
  6. Builds bone strength and density. If you walk, run or do other weight-bearing exercise, you’ll be less likely to suffer from brittle bones, or osteoporosis.
  7. Keeps diabetes in check. Exercise reduces the body’s need for insulin and your chances of developing adult-onset diabetes. For those who already have the disease, regular exercise may help reduce the need for medication.
  8. Helps you get a good night’s sleep. Exercise helps people fall asleep more quickly, sleep more soundly and awake feeling more refreshed and alert.
  9. Makes you feel happy. Exercise activates the release of central endorphins, chemical messengers in the brain that produce a special sense of well-being.
  10. Provides an energy boost. Strength gained through exercise not only makes you look younger and stand straighter but also helps you avoid back pain. Exercise also boosts aerobic capacity: Exercisers don’t tire or get winded as easily as inactive people and aren’t as likely to feel wiped out at the end of the day.

© 2014 Dowden Health Media