Most of the time I don’t feel like someone in my mid 60’s. My efforts to eat well, exercise regularly, and pay attention to what my body, mind, and spirit are telling me, help me to live most of my days to the fullest.
Even so, I am realizing that there are things my body just doesn’t want to do as it has in the past.
It wouldn’t be unusual for me to go through my workday, including finding time for a few workouts, eat dinner, then go back to the office for an hour or so before calling an end to the workday around 8 or 8:30 p.m. Easy peasy.
I’ve recently discovered, however, that my body doesn’t want to conform to that schedule anymore. It’s telling me that a more strenuous workout that includes strength training needs to be done earlier in the day, not after 5 p.m. What??
It’s telling me that once I stop and have some dinner, the workday is done on most days. Really??
So I’ve been doing some research on the benefits of exercise on aging in order to combat slowing stamina as you age. Because I don’t like to give up or give in to things that make me change how I live, or make me feel like I can’t do something that I want to do. I’m a little bit stubborn that way.
Your lifestyle or daily routine might look very different than mine, but even so, if you’ve noticed that your stamina isn’t quite what it used to be, keep reading. 🙂
The Benefits of Exercise on Aging
As we get older (men and women), the aging process shows a gradual decrease in endurance, strength, and flexibility. Got that. ✔️
To minimize it, we should get regular exercise, eat a proper diet, and maintain a healthy weight. Got that. ✔️
Studies show that our bodies use oxygen less efficiently as we get older. Interestingly, our posture directly impacts oxygen flow and stamina. Hmmm.
Why? Our upper spine (the area that surrounds the lungs) usually changes in shape as we age, with an increased upper back curve of about 10 degrees by 60 years of age. Furthermore, our spinal ligaments typically become stiff and lose that elasticity of our youth. Both combined can decrease our lung capacity, which has a negative impact on endurance and strength, or reduced stamina as we age. New information. ⭐
So if you’ve noticed that some things have changed in your everyday routine, and maybe you are not able to do as much as you did in the past, or not in the same way, this may be part of the reason.
So, what can we do to combat this propensity for decreased lung capacity and slowing stamina as we get older? This is where the benefits of exercise on aging really come into play, specifically aerobic exercise. And, all of these activities we’ll mention will help keep your metabolism strong, too.
1) AEROBIC EXERCISE
When you do aerobic exercise it raises your heart rate, and when you consistently engage in this type of activity, over time it will help to strengthen your heart muscle. More blood will pump, delivering oxygen and nutrients to your muscles for energy. This can help counteract that natural decline in your heart’s capabilities.
Strong muscles have more endurance and can react faster when needed. So we not only want to keep our heart muscle strong with aerobic exercise, we want to continue to work on maintaining and even building overall muscle strength as we get older. Got it. ✔️
Be sure to consult your physician if needed, to make sure you’re able to perform the type of aerobic or strength training you want to engage in.
2) STRETCHING EXERCISES
Consistent stretching can help us maintain the flexibility we need to sustain an active and healthy lifestyle and counteract the natural shift toward less flexibility as we age. In fact, stretching in the morning can be a real game-changer for us as women over 50. Try it!
This is an activity that I didn’t give enough attention to until recently. It is so essential, friends, and an integral part of the benefits of exercise on aging!
A good night of sleep: get it as often as you can. Although it may not fit the category of a benefit of exercise on aging, it is a must!
In general, we need seven to eight hours of sleep at night in order to release the hormones that build and repair muscles.
And, studies have shown that a lack of sleep can decrease the carbohydrate, glycogen, which is used for energy during physical activity. It makes sense when you think about it. Raise your hand if an ongoing lack of sleep makes you not only tired but listless and lacking energy. 🤚
What to do with these suggestions for maintaining our stamina as we age
For me, it’s a verification that the increased aerobic exercise I’ve been doing for the last couple of months is a healthy choice for maintaining and even increasing my stamina. I want to keep my heart muscle strong!
With the climate restrictions (I’m a big baby and don’t want to walk outside if it’s less than 55 degrees) and our current sheltering in place, I’m wearing out my comfy walking shoes with my indoor jogging, walking, and marching in place. But that’s fine with me, as I’ve gradually increased the tempo and pace of my jogging.
Strength training has been a part of my workout routines for years, and although I’m not lifting as much weight as I did 10 or 20 years ago, I feel that I should increase the weights a little bit at this point, so will be adding to my small but helpful array of hand weights.
Along with the indoor aerobics, I’ve started added stretching exercises, before and during my walkout workouts. Now I need to remember to stretch when done, to make it the most effective, safe, and healthy activity that I can.
I also want to be reasonable, listen to my body, and make good choices for myself and my lifestyle. So, if adding more leisure time to my evening seems like the right decision, I will do that. If I need to switch up my daily routine and place the heavier workout in the middle of the day, so be it.
Living alone gives me total flexibility with my schedule and I don’t mind that at this time in my life. But I want to remember my philosophy of ‘moderation in all things‘ and that includes how I spend my time.
Whether it’s a matter of my slowing stamina as I am getting older, or simply making a wise decision, some relaxing time in the evening could include reading, picking up on learning a new language (that went by the wayside a long time ago!), taking a course to learn a new skill (just started a really interesting online cooking course), or chilling out with a TV show I enjoy.
How about you? Have you found that your stamina seems to be decreasing as the years go by?
Take some time to evaluate your focus and commitment to aerobic exercise and strength training, to the value of incorporating stretching into your workout, and making sure you get enough sleep at night.
The benefits are real, and they’re available to us if we put these into practice!
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