Women + Exercise = Healthy Aging

Most moms, and most women in general, workout for primarily aesthetic reasons. They want to look better on the outside; and, perhaps, want to feel better about themselves as a bonus. Exercise is thought of as something to do to see results quickly: to have more energy for our kids, to be a healthy role model or to take off a few pounds. When, in fact, this same exercise - over time - has been recently linked to a myriad of healthy outcomes later in life.

Four recent studies published in the Archives of Internal Medicine link exercise with healthy aging in several different ways. Drs Jeff Williamson and Marco Pahor, of the University of Florida, are cited in the accompanying editorial:

"Regular physical activity has also been associated with greater longevity as well as reduced risk of physical disability and dependence, the most important healthy outcome, even more than death, for most older people. ...Exercise has a clinically relevant impact."

By exercising and leading a healthy lifestyle as new moms we are not only giving our children fabulous role models early in life, but we are also creating less work and frustration for them as we age. By taking care of our bodies now we will be more self sufficient, healthier and stronger in our elderly years. One study that stood out in particular was one that linked exercise to denser bones and lower risk of falls in older women. Women aged 65 and over were split into groups that either participated in regular exercise or did not participate in exercise (control). The exercise group had higher bone mineral density in the spine and hip and a 66% reduced rate of falls. Also, the women in the control group were twice as likely to have fractures due to falls compared to those in the exercise group. The women in the study only participated in the research and exercised for 18 months and yet the differences in the groups was so markedly different. Just think: the participants began their workout routines in their later stages of life - imagine the results and the strength they would have built up if they integrated a exercise program earlier in life.

Another study focused on cognitive skills in older women. Again, as we age, it is our children who switch roles and become our caretakers. A child having to deal with a parent with cognitive regressions is not something that any of us would ever wish. Women aged 65-75 were tested in a 12 month period. During that period, the women were broken into a once or twice a week resistance training group and a group only working on balance and toning. The women who participated in resistance training incredibly had an 11% increase in cognitive testing. The cognitive testing included selective attention and conflict resolution. The group who did no resistance training, only balance and toning work, actually deteriorated by .5%. WOW! Strengthening and leaning out your body in your younger years can have huge implications on your future health.

This research indicates that striving to be a healthy, active mom will not only benefit YOU in the short and long term - but will have such a tremendous trickle down effect. Consider each member of your family when you decide whether or not to eat healthy or workout today, you can make a difference in the future.


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