Maintaining Your Youth – “Use it or Lose it”

To many people, growing older means that life will slowly go downhill -but it doesn’t have to be that way.  The misconception most have of aging as “a time of gradual loss of function” isn’t necessarily accurate.  While aging is inevitable, loss of function isn’t. Much of the decline in our ability to function at the level of your youth (i.e. walk, run, climb stairs, or even work a physically demanding job) is due to inactivity – not aging – and can be prevented. When it comes to strength, energy, and fitness, the old saying still applies: “use it or lose it.”

The benefits of regular activity have been studied and well documented. Exercise strengthens muscles and maintains joint flexibility. It can lower cholesterol, blood pressure, and the risk of osteoarthritis, and help maintain healthy blood glucose levels. In addition, exercise can also help you lose weight, reduce stress, and improve sleep, digestion, circulation, energy levels and self-esteem. Finally, regular exercise can help you to function better – at home and at the job – and remain independent (as you age) in spite of health problems.

The good news is that it is never too late to start exercising. Everyone can benefit from regular physical activity. But it is older people who have more at stake as they struggle to manage chronic health issues and maintain independence. The people most successful at aging are those who are physically active.  Even a little physical activity can have great benefits for health and well-being.

By “physically active,” the Surgeon General recommends 1-hour of moderate activity (like brisk walking) on five or more days of the week. The 1-hour can be accomplished in one stretch or in a few short bursts. Muscle strengthening and flexibility exercises are also important to a complete activity program. 

As always, it is imperative that you talk with your physician before starting any exercise program. There may be some activities or exercises that you should avoid, and you should know about them ahead of time. On-the-job-injuries also become more common as employees age. For preventative measures, keeping your muscles flexible helps your joints maintain the range of motion (ROM) needed to complete daily activities, while on the job. 

There are many resources out there should you have any questions or concerns about your exercise program. A physical therapist, exercise physiologist or an occupational therapist can help you get started on an exercise program designed specifically for you. Theses professionals have special training in creating exercise routines and can teach you how to do you program correctly and safely.

Lastly, conditioning builds your endurance so that you feel fatigue less quickly and are better able to tolerate prolonged activity -if working a physically demanding job. Conditioning assures that you have enough energy to complete your everyday tasks and those activities that bring you joy to your life, such as golf, a game of basketball and playing with the grandchildren.

Remember, while accidents do happen, being educated on the fundamentals of reducing workplace injuries and having strength, energy and fitness will ultimately prevent further accidents from happening – especially those repeat occurrences.

If you are interested in finding out more about Proof:Positive Consulting and the services we provide, please contact us.

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