As the saying goes, "health is wealth," and nothing could be truer for those who are battling chronic illnesses or entering their golden years. Exercise has long been touted as a remedy for physical ailments, but did you know that it also holds the key to happiness and longevity? Whether you're managing an ongoing health condition or just want to boost your overall wellness during your next season, it turns out that understanding how exercise works (and how it doesn’t!) can improve every aspect of your life.
This was the topic in a recent conversation I had with Lana Stevenson, Owner/Trainer at Resilience Shift Health, Wellness & Fitness. She started this business after learning of her daughter's cancer diagnosis and is now helping others survive and thrive. She talked about some of the common misunderstandings we have about how much exercise – and what kinds of workouts – and the fact that these misunderstandings often feed our demotivation.
As an example from my own life, when I was going through chemo as part of my breast cancer treatment, one of the most common pieces of advice I heard from doctors and from loved ones was that I needed to rest. A lot. Pretty much all of the time, and to save my energy by not exerting myself. Honestly, trying to be still was exhausting in itself.
But the bigger truth was, when I did get outside for a short walk, I felt better in every way. Getting my blood pumping through my veins, breathing in the fresh air, and allowing myself to absorb the things happening outside of my walls all combined to give me moments of vitality and hope.
Getting Active is Much Harder for Some People
Chronic illness and senior populations face unique challenges when it comes to physical fitness. Many chronic illnesses can limit mobility and energy levels, making it difficult to participate in regular exercise. Age-related changes can make it harder to stay active as we get older, too.
It’s important to realize that regular physical activity can help to improve your mood and cognitive function. It also reduces the risk of developing chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer, and arthritis. Exercise can also help to reduce the severity of symptoms in those who already suffer from chronic conditions. Want a cool bonus? Seniors who are physically fit are more likely to live longer, independent lives.
If you’re like most people, you want to live a long and healthy life. And while there are many factors that contribute to longevity, recent research has shown that fitness and happiness are two of the most important. Thankfully, there are plenty of exercise programs out there that can help improve both fitness and happiness levels. Here are some to consider:
Walking groups: Walking is a great way to get some low-impact exercise while also socializing with others. Walking groups are easy to find through community networks and online directories.
Exercise classes: Taking an exercise class is a great way to get fit while also having fun. There are all sorts of classes available, from dance to yoga to water aerobics. Check with your local community center or recreation department to see what’s offered in your area.
Senior centers: Senior centers typically offer a variety of activities and programs designed specifically for older adults.
Staying Motivated is Hard Too – But I Believe in You!
Exercise is one of the best things you can do for your health. It has been shown to improve mental health, increase your quality of life, and even extend life expectancy. However, it can be difficult to stay motivated, especially if age or illness is an obstacle. Here are some tips to help you stay motivated and get the most out of your workout:
1) Set realistic goals. If you’re just starting out, don’t try to do too much too soon. Set small goals that you can realistically achieve and build up from there.
2) Find an activity that you enjoy. If you hate running, don’t force yourself to do it just because it’s “good for you.” There are plenty of other options available – find one that you actually enjoy and look forward to doing.
3) Make it social. Exercise is more enjoyable when it’s done with friends or family members. Plan regular workouts with your loved ones so that you can support and motivate each other.
4) Give yourself rewards. When you reach a goal, give yourself a little reward – it doesn’t have to be anything big or expensive, just something to show yourself that you’re making progress.
5) Enlist a professional. If you’re struggling to stay motivated, consider working with a personal trainer or another fitness professional.
The connection between fitness, happiness, and longevity is an important piece of life’s puzzle. Engaging in physical activity and exercise can help stimulate mental health while promoting overall well-being. When you prioritize physical activity as part of your lifestyle plan, you’ll be that much closure to finding your optimal health and well-being.
As for me, I’m going to connect with Lana at Resilience Shift and see if I can make a few positive changes for myself. I’ll let you know how it’s going soon!