As we age, staying at peak fitness becomes a challenge. But it is essential to maintain physical fitness over time to avoid serious health complications such as heart disease, joint and mobility issues, and other preventable conditions. Here are three ways to improve and maintain your fitness so you can stay at the top of your game throughout your life, regardless of age, gender, or past ailments or injuries.
It may seem counterintuitive to people suffering from joint stiffness or arthritis to hear that they must regularly engage in physical activity. Yet, as research shows, using your joints despite the stiffness and discomfort helps alleviate some pain. It is also vital for strengthening the cartilage and muscles surrounding the joints. When you strengthen the muscles around your joints, you provide the necessary scaffolding and support for soft tissues and menisci, preventing further injury and deterioration.
The health benefits of exercise are multifold. Physical activity is essential for maintaining and improving cardiovascular health in adults, especially as they age. One of the key benefits of exercise for older adults is enhancing cognitive abilities and preventing cognitive decline. As a bonus, cardiovascular exercise helps balance the endocannabinoid system, leading to feelings of well-being and improving mood and mental health. It is also essential for maintaining a healthy weight, a key factor in preventing lifestyle diseases such as heart disease, stroke, and type two diabetes. In addition, when you continue to exercise regularly into your senior years, you maintain and improve your physical mobility and balance.
Although stress is an integral part of life, prolonged stress can adversely affect your physical and mental health. The body’s so-called “fight or flight” response is an important alarm system that alerts us to threats and dangers. However, our modern lifestyles are fraught with excessive stressors that create an imbalance in our natural stress response and have detrimental effects on physical and mental health. Stress has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and many other health issues.
It’s impossible to get rid of all stress in life. What is possible and essential is to find and use proven strategies for stress management and reduction. As mentioned in the previous section, physical exercise can help improve mental health and cognition, and it can help with reducing and managing chronic stress. The feel-good chemicals released by the human brain during exercise have beneficial effects such as relaxation, reduced anxiety, improved mood, and as a result reduced overall stress, and improved quality of life.
Other stress-management strategies include:
Increasingly, research shows that sleep is essential for so many body systems that it’s impossible to cover them all here. We’ll mention a few of the most important benefits of sleep. First, it is essential for recovery from high-intensity physical activity. When you work out or engage in cardiovascular exercise, your muscles experience minor tears and damage. The mild tearing stimulates the body to build stronger muscles that can withstand the increased load and activity, leading to a stronger body and bigger muscles. However, to build those muscles, your body needs a period of rest and recovery to allow for these natural systems to kick in. Not getting enough rest or recovery can be dangerous, potentially leading to permanent damage to the muscles and joints. This is why it’s important to schedule rest days in between intense workout days, to ensure your body has the time to recover naturally, and during those rest days, it is important to nourish your body with more protein and essential nutrients.
Recent studies show that a few tactics can help speed up recovery, allowing you to get back in the game as soon as possible. The first is adding natural supplements to your routine to aid recovery. There’s exciting new research that shows that CBD may be able to speed up natural recovery after physical activity. While it’s all quite new, these results are promising and exciting, indicating that the natural ingredient, CBD, still has so much to offer and we’ve only scratched the surface of its many benefits.
Finally, no approach is entirely foolproof, but with these strategies, you set yourself up for success and increase the likelihood of reaching your fitness goals faster. Make sure to prioritize your recovery, manage your stress for better outcomes, and get back in the game faster!
Johns Hopkins Arthritis Center- “Role of Exercise in Arthritis Management”
Campbell Clinic (Orthopedics)- "The Benefits of Exercise on Your Joints"
National Institute on Aging (NIH) - “Real-Life Benefits of Exercise and Physical Activity"
National Institute on Aging (NIH) - "Four Types of Exercise Can Improve Your Health and Physical Ability"
National Institute on Aging (NIH) - "Potential Role of Cannabidiol on Sports Recovery: A Narrative Review"
British Journal of Sports Medicine - "Endocannabinoids and exercise"
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services - “Manage Stress”
American Psychological Association - "Stress and Sleep"
Everyday Health - "How Sleep Affects Fitness"