Did you know that regular exercise not only makes your body fit, but your mind and spirit too? It can help ease anxiety, stress, and depression; as well, as boost your self-esteem and energy levels. People who exercise more also tend to eat more nutritiously. In a study of 278 adults ages 60 and older, those with depression had a lower intake of fruits and vegetables (the main sources of antioxidants) and a lower intake of dietary antioxidants overall compared with those who weren’t depressed. Studies have also shown that individuals who are stressed tend to not only consume lower amounts of antioxidants. But individuals also tend to consume more food overall, which can make it very difficult for weight loss, which can in turn cause more stress.
You only need to exercise for a minimum of 20 to 40 minutes, this amount of time is better for reducing anxiety and increasing energy than shorter bouts of exercise. Choose any exercise you enjoy and you’ll be more likely to make it a habit. It’s easy, just taking a brisk walk outside clears your head, helps you absorb vitamin D (another depression fighter) and relieves tension. Studies have shown that if you incorporate walking into your fitness routine, you are more likely to stick to it.
These strategies can help you incorporate exercise a part of your routine:
- Enjoy exercise by keeping it at a level that is comfortable for you
- Maintain a regular schedule – exercise before work or at lunch. Try joining a class, basketball league, cycling club, or other group
- Change your outlook. Focus on the positives, like how it gives you more energy and can help reduce stress in addition to helping with weight loss
In addition to reducing stress and helping with weight loss, staying physically active as you age may also prevent or delay the onset of Alzheimer’s and other memory disorders. In one study, older adults who spent a decent amount of time on mentally challenging activities had about half the risk of developing Alzheimer’s as those who rarely engage in physical activities. This test also included brain-saving activities like playing cards, or checkers, reading, working crosswords, or other puzzles and visiting museums. Just remember if you are doing anything seated for long periods of time, get up and move around every hour or so to keep your blood flowing.
Another mental and physical challenge to explore is orienteering – a race in wilderness navigation using a map and campus. Visit their website for information, events and resources. Shane Diet & Fitness Resorts Instructors have a lot of mental and physical challenges to keep you motivated and moving.