There are many benefits to incorporating exercise into your schedule, especially in midlife. Some of the key benefits include:
*Preserving heart and brain health as people get older.
*Exercise has been shown as one of the most effective and affordable ways to minimise the risk of developing chronic illnesses such as diabetes, dementia and heart disease
*Starting after the age of 30, people can lose 3-5% of their muscle mass per decade. Regular exercise and strength training can help counteract this
*Exercise has proven as an effective tool for improving mental health
*Exercise improves your sleep
*Physical activity boosts blood flow to the brain
Improving your health, fitness and wellness can literally be as easy as a walk in the park.
The federal government recommends 30 minutes of physical activity five times a week - anything that gets your blood pumping! The suggested target is 150 minutes total each week. There is research to support the importance of moving your body regularly rather than in a single session, so regular blocks of movement, no matter how short, are beneficial!
Despite the many benefits of physical activity as we age, there are a number of barriers that make it difficult for people to continue moving in midlife and in the years after.
*A lack of time - midlife is a busy time with people playing multiple roles in their lives and multi-tasking to get through their list of obligations and tasks. Between raising children, caring for aging parents, working and life admin, it is hard to find time to incorporate purposeful movement into an already busy day.
*High expectations - many people have a vision of their life that puts immense pressure on their performance in both their professional and personal lives. The quest of achieving at a level to match the high expectations can increase the time committed to tasks as well as the associated stress, both which create challenges to incorporating physical activity into a chaotic schedule.
*Fatigue - The many responsibilities that people face paired with the goals and expectations we place on ourselves can lead to another barrier to remaining physically active; fatigue.
For many, exercise may not make the priority list when there is precious free time. Sadly, taking time for themselves to attend a class or exercise solo can seem like a luxury and can have associated guilt as people in mid-life often place themselves low on their priority list. Instead, working late, spending more time with family, or completing additional tasks on the to do list can take the valuable time that exercise would otherwise take.
Though daunting, these obstacles need not be insurmountable.
Here are some strategies to help incorporate regular movement into your schedule:
· FOLLOW A PLAN
Exercise should be scheduled in the same way as other meetings and commitments in your calendar. It is essential that we take the time to move our bodies for our physical and mental health. Create a plan for WHERE and WHEN to exercise. If you aren’t sure where to start, consider working with a personal trainer or coach. Hutton Health offers a monthly membership which provides a structured program with cardio, strength and stretching sessions programmed each week.
· ADD ACCOUNTABILITY
Enlist the help of a friend, family member or coach to keep you accountable to your exercise schedule. The Hutton Health app tracks your sessions and your progress to add accountability and motivation to your program.
· DO WHAT YOU LOVE
Combine movement with other things you enjoy doing. Enjoy coffee with a friend? Why not grab a take away and walk while you catch up. Love music? Enjoy your favourite tunes as a reward when you are out running or walking.
· INCREASE YOUR STEPS
Incorporate movement into your daily tasks to help increase the number of steps you take each day.
-Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
-Park at a further away spot in the car park.
-Walk your child to school. If the distance is too far, consider parking a block away to enjoy some time walking together.
-Rather than sitting down for a meeting with a colleague, take a walk instead
· SET A GOAL
Set a goal to help keep you on track. Your goals should be based on your current fitness level and should be realistic targets to help increase your motivation and keep you on track.
Understanding the various barriers to physical activity and creating strategies to overcome them may help you incorporate physical activity into your daily routine. With the many mental, physical and psychological benefits of exercise, it is important to establish movement as a key feature of our daily schedules.