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Health & Fit:8 Reasons You Need to Stay Fit After Age 50

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8 Reasons You Need to Stay Fit After Age 50 © Rocketclips, Inc. / older-woman-African-American_233223661_Rocketclips-Inc. You can live a longer and more active life if you stay physically fit after age 50.

Suzette Pereira, a research scientist specializing in muscle health and aging, tells Money Talks News that maintaining muscle health can:

  • Improve energy levels and mobility.
  • Decrease the risk of falls and fractures.
  • Speed up recovery from illnesses.

Exercise is essential for maintaining mental and physical health, says the National Institute on Aging. But ease into an exercise routine to avoid injuries. Visit your doctor for a checkup before beginning a fitness program.

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Below are powerful reasons to stay in shape after turning 50.

1. You’ll think more clearly

In addition to building muscles, exercise can help improve brain function. You can perform better and remain competitive in the workplace.

“Generally, exercise has been shown to improve mood and sleep and reduce stress and anxiety, all of which can indirectly help with overall cognitive function,” says Pereira, who works at Abbott, a pharmaceutical and medical devices company.

A 2018 study by the American Academy of Neurology found that improved brain function can begin with at least 52 hours of aerobic exercise, strength training and/or mind–body exercise (like tai chi, yoga and qigong). The findings were true for people with cognitive impairments, too.

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2. You’ll spend less on medical care

Sticking to a regular exercise regimen can improve your health, meaning you may be able to spend less time and money at the doctor.

According to the Mayo Clinic, an academic medical center based in Rochester, Minnesota, regular exercise helps prevent or manage a wide range of health problems, including stroke, high blood pressure, depression and many types of cancer.

Related: The Best Home Exercise Equipment for People Over 50

3. You may save on life insurance

If you can stay fit, you also may save money on life insurance, since underwriters base policy costs on your risk of death. Being overweight, for example, can result in higher rates. Maintaining a healthy weight and strong vital signs could reduce your rate.

John Hancock, one of the largest life insurers in North America, in 2018 announced it would sell only policies that involve using wearable devices and smartphones to track a policyholder’s fitness and health data, Reuters reports. Discounts or gift cards are offered for hitting exercise targets.

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4. You don’t need equipment or a gym

In its newest Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, the federal government recommends that older adults get a minimum of 2½ hours of moderately intense aerobic exercise each week.

There’s no need to buy a gym membership or expensive equipment when you can get creative and fit that exercise into your daily routine. For example:

  • Walk to the supermarket, drug store, or post office.
  • Take stairs instead of elevators.
  • Keep sneakers under your desk for lunch-hour walks.
  • Ride an exercise bike while you watch TV.

And everyday activities such as gardening or housework contribute to fitness, too, personal trainer Robert Herbst tells Money Talks News.

5. You’ll feel happier

There is a strong connection between physical fitness and happiness. In addition to boosting your energy, exercise can elevate your mood.

Physical activity stimulates brain chemicals that can make you feel more relaxed and reduce anxiety, the Mayo Clinic reports. As a bonus, you may feel better about your appearance, raising your self-esteem.

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6. Women can reduce the loss of muscle and bone

With regular exercise, women can reduce the loss of bone and muscle that occurs as they grow older, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The age-related loss of muscle and bone mass is more pronounced in women than men, with menopause accelerating this decline. Weight-based exercises are particularly helpful in combating these conditions, which can compromise a woman’s ability to perform daily activities.

The phrase “use it or lose it” is correct when it comes to maintaining strong bones, muscles and joints, personal trainer and ballroom dancer Leon Turetsky tells Money Talks News.

7. You’ll stay independent longer

According to the National Council on Aging, regular exercise can help older adults remain independent and free of health problems. Seniors who remain physically active are more likely than those who are sedentary to accomplish the basic activities of daily life without assistance.

8. You’ll live longer

Aerobic fitness is a powerful indicator of long-term mortality, and the more you do the greater the benefit.

Just three hours a week of regular exercise may potentially extend life by as much as five years, according to the University of Southern California’s Leonard Davis School of Gerontology.

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On the other hand, not exercising creates a risk of premature death that’s equal to or worse than cardiovascular disease, diabetes or smoking, a 2018 Journal of the American Medical Association study found.

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Have you started or continued an exercise program after age 50? Share your experience or thoughts with us by commenting below or on our Facebook page.

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