7 Reasons to keep moving as we age
Mum stands in front of you, her eyes widening in anticipation as you begin to lift your leg. The large, clunky video camera glistens in the summer light, taunting you, urging you to move towards it. Dad stands behind, waiting to catch you if you fall, but hoping that he won’t need to. The shiny object has grabbed your attention, you have no choice but to try and grab it. You move your little legs slowly, but surely, as you walk towards your Mum with the camera. You’ve done it. You’ve taken your first steps. You are now free to roam in the big, wide world.
The stink of hairspray and obnoxious perfume permeates the air, and as you bounce around on that dance floor, you know your hairstyle has no chance of falling out. Your favourite song is playing over the speakers and the words form in your mouth without you even realising. The circle of your friends grows larger as you whirl each other around without a care in the world. Your feet grow tired as you dance into the night.
From taking your first steps, to dancing the night away at school discos or nightclubs, it is certain that from the moment we are born we are striving to move more. There is no doubt, among scientists and psychologists alike, that this movement is good for us no matter what form it comes in - lifting weight, learning martial arts, joining a gym, hiking, or playing a team sport all equally help us to stay fit and satisfy that need for movement we have as humans. However, as this ability to move is so fundamental to human life, it is often the case that we forget to relish it until we feel that we can no longer move in the ways that we used to. This is not cause to give up. As we age it is important that we continue to move, taking into account the possible physical challenged this may come with. This may feel impossible at times, but so did taking your first steps at some point in your life!
There are many reasons to continue moving and exercising into our later years, including:
Movement releases endorphins, which are the feel good chemicals. This means that just by getting up and dancing or moving around, you can help yourself to get in a better mood! So if you are feeling flat or low, moving is a great way to create energy and pump endorphins through your body. This can help to alleviate depression and avoid boredom.
Just as was mentioned before, movement is a fundamental part of being a human. Without it, we would not be able to do anything and our muscles and joint would have no function at all! Therefore, it is very clear that inactivity can lead to atrophied muscles (which have decreased size and function). This makes walking, performing daily tasks like showering and getting dressed, and even breathing, much more difficult. In addition, increasing movement has also been proven to increase bone and muscle strength, which are both important for fall prevention – in fact, regular exercise can decrease hip fractures by 40%.
When we exercise, we create more oxygen flow to the brain. This is vital for mental capacity and this increased blood flow can also help to slow down the degeneration of brain cells.
Exercising and moving has a direct connection to wound healing. Studies have shown that in active adults compared to non-active adults, the rate of wound healing is increased by up to 25%.
Movement is a great way to make sure you stay connected with people. Being around others and taking part in a similar activity to them in a relaxed environment, e.g. dancing, can provide opportunity to interact, share stories, and support each other.
With heart attacks being one of the highest causes of death in Australia, with one person dying every 12 minutes, it is important to give weight to participating in exercises that can decrease this figure. The heart is a muscle, as requires use to remain strong, with low impact cardiovascular exercise being the key to a healthy heart. But always make sure you have approval from a medical practitioner where required before you begin!
As we age, we lose our sense of balance and begin to doubt that we can participate in activities we once enjoyed. There are a range of movement activities that can be enjoyed in a safe environment that will help increase confidence and become more secure in our spatial awareness.