As the nights are drawing in earlier and earlier, and you’ve had a long and hard day at work, the idea of fitting in some exercise before you call time on your day is less than appealing! Curling up in front of the TV seems much more like your cup of tea. But the simple fact is if we make the effort, we will feel more energised with a positive mind set, as well as giving ourselves a big pat on the back!
Growing evidence has revealed that exercise affects our brains in such a way that it can relieve depression and anxiety whilst keeping our minds active, regardless of age. Keeping fit will also keep our doctors happy! The risk of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes is greatly reduced when we take regular exercise and keep our weight within a healthy range. However, less emphasis is placed on the effects that a healthy lifestyle has on our brains. A strange concept considering that our brains are the physical organ that respond to everything we put our bodies through!
In order to protect our cognitive function and help prevent the onset of dementia, a healthy diet and plenty of activity into old age will help. Great news at a time when we’re generally living longer, but not so good when the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia are closely associated with this longevity. But the idea that we can do something to help ourselves is very welcome, and this is all down to diet and exercise.
It’s never too late to take up some form of exercise, even if you’ve never done much before. A brisk walk to get the heart pumping and the limbs toned is a great place to start, and as you build up stamina you could increase this to a gentle jog. If you have the funds, a gym membership is well worth the cash. Your instructor will give you a thorough induction to assess your fitness levels, and will create an exercise schedule specifically for you, taking into account any existing medical issues you may have. As with any fitness programme, make sure you take regular trips to the water coolers to drink, in order to keep your body’s organs (the brain being just as important as the others) cleansed and hydrated. Eating a healthy diet, avoiding processed foods and cutting down on fats, sugars and alcohol will complement your new exercise regime, as will eating water rich foods, and drinking more water.
If there’s one important thing to remember it’s this – ageing is 30% genetics and 70% lifestyle. Making the right choices now will enable us to live life to the full later. Food for thought if you feel like missing some exercise in favour of laying on the couch!