A Healthier You: It’s Never Too Late to Start
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As temperatures drop, daylight hours get shorter, and the holidays are right around the corner, it’s all too easy to slip into a less active lifestyle and overindulge in holiday food and extra treats. However, maintaining a regular schedule of physical activity is crucial, especially as we age. There are numerous benefits to staying physically active, and it plays a critical role in healthy aging, reducing the risk of chronic diseases, enhancing overall well-being, and preventing early death.
Do you know what the recommended physical activity guidelines are for adults? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), adults should get at least 150 minutes (2 ½ hours) of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise a week to increase their heart rate and get their blood flowing. The guidelines also recommend some type of muscle-strengthening at least two days a week. The most important component is to maintain physical activity on a regular basis.
Regular activity not only helps to prevent early death, but also lowers the risks of chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, arthritis pain, high blood pressure, and certain cancers. It also helps in strengthening bones and muscles, improving joint mobility, balance, and helps with reducing the risk of falling. Exercising regularly also helps to improve mood and mental health.
A study by the CDC shows severe joint pain is more common among adults with arthritis who are physically inactive. According to the Arthritis Foundation, exercise is considered the most effective non-drug treatment for reducing pain and improving movement in patients with osteoarthritis. The exercise program should consist of four components; strength building, range of motion, aerobic or cardio, and balance exercises.
One of the most encouraging findings is, it’s never too late to start exercising. Age should never be a barrier to a healthier lifestyle. As North Carolina Cooperative Extension, Robeson County Center’s Family and Consumer Sciences Agent, I implemented the Lifelong Improvement Fitness Together (LIFT) program for the first time in Robeson County. It is a group-based strength training program for adults 55 plus. The exercises are easily modified to be easier or more difficult, depending on your physical ability. Sessions are held one hour, twice a week over the course of eight weeks and include a warm-up, strength training exercises, and a cool down. The classes help participants improve strength and mobility, learn healthy food options, create a habit of physical activity, and, most importantly, help form community.
In February 2024, I am excited to offer another Exercise for Strength Program for those 55 and above. This program is designed to meet you where you are on your fitness journey. As February is American Heart Health Month, there’s no better time to commit to giving your heart the gift of regular exercise. Join us for Exercise for Strength classes starting in February, 2024, and take the first step towards a healthier you.
Don’t let the changing season and holiday temptations deter you from prioritizing your well-being. Let’s embrace the benefits of regular physical activity together. Registration will be required for this class. Please follow us on our website, N.C. Cooperative Extension, Robeson County Center, you can request information on upcoming classes and events by joining our mailing list.