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Expert advice: the benefits of exercise for the body and mind

As we age our usual levels of exercise can begin to decrease, but it is important to remember that the benefits of exercise are hugely significant for our bodies and minds as we get older.

RetireAustralia exercise

Dr. Ryan Harvey of House Call Doctor – a team of medical practitioners who specialise in optimal, at-home, after-hours doctor services across Queensland – said exercising as we age is vital.

“Regular exercise of not only your body but also your mind is an essential ingredient in healthy ageing,” Dr. Harvey said.

The benefits of exercising your body

Regular exercise is important at any age, and those over 65 can reap many benefits from aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities, Dr. Harvey said.

“Aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities can help prevent bone loss, improve balance and coordination skills,” he said.

“It can also boost your memory and mood and even ease the symptoms of chronic conditions.”

Additionally, exercise can:

1. Assist with immune function, helping the body fight off sickness more effectively

2. Lower the risk of heart disease and high blood pressure

3. Protect against bone mass loss, reducing the risk of osteoporosis and lowering the risk of breaking bones

4. Lower the risk of chronic conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, diabetes, obesity, heart disease, osteoporosis and colon cancer

“Aerobic and muscle-strengthening exercises are the most manageable forms of exercise, and provide wonderful benefits for our bodies as we age,” Dr. Harvey said.

“Those over the age of 65 should partake in at least 30 minutes of moderately-intense physical activity on most days of the week, or all, if possible.”

Suggested aerobic exercises include:

1. Brisk walking

2. Water aerobics

3. Ballroom dancing

4. Bike riding

5. Tennis

Muscle-strengthening exercises include:

1. Incidental exercise – lifting grocery bags, for example

2. Gardening

3. Yoga

4. Weight-lifting

The benefits of exercising your mind

Keeping the mind sharp and alert is just as important as regularly exercising the body, Dr. Harvey said.

“Just like any other muscle, your brain must be regularly exercised to stay fit and healthy,” he said.

Researchers at Stanford University found that mental exercises can reduce memory loss by between 30-50%, and it can be a thoroughly enjoyable experience too.

Some examples of exercises for the mind include:

1. Reading books, newspapers and magazines

2. Playing games like scrabble, chess and cards

3. Taking a course in something that interests you

4. Starting a new hobby

5. Learning a language

6. Doing crosswords and puzzles

Learn more about House Call Doctor at their website or call 13 55 66


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