Many times I see older adults unable to walk stairs, or tell me that they have achy joints. They tell me that their range of motion (ROM) has decreased quite a bit since they have aged and they “just don’t feel as if they could start exercising”. But here is the thing, exercise may be difficult at first but it helps to reduce (if not eliminate) all of the problems that they seem to tell me that they have.
Exercise has many wonderful effects on the body. Osteoporosis is a very big concern for most older adults, but when you exercise, you are actually putting weight on your bones. When doing weight baring activities, your bones are ‘stressed’ which means your body will send a signal that it needs help or repair. This sends tiny cells called osteoblasts to your bones to help with increasing bone density. This is also a good case for those of you who don’t get the recommended dose of calcium to make it a priority to exercise.
Exercise really can look like anything from a walk, to yoga, to simple stretching or very high intensity workouts. There are so many things that you can do to move your body. When your body begins to move, something even more cool happens than that bones forming #sciencenerdslovefacts. Your body will begin to produce endorphins which are basically “happy hormones”. When we sit in our houses all day or don’t move much, a cloud of gloom will likely begin to form over our heads. But these endorphins work almost like drugs, or sugar, in the thought that they make us feel happy or feel a sense of less stress. Along with the increase in endorphins, science has shown that this decreases the speed and chances for memory loss, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease. Moving also increases our abilities to multitask and be creative, so get moving!
Let’s talk joints and range of motion. It may be hard to move at first, but with time and dedication, you will be able to increase your range of motion through movement, stretching (and chiropractic care, of course). Each time you move your joints, there is a lubrication mechanism in between your bones to help it move more smoothly, without pain, and help you feel effortlessly in control of your body. The more you move, the more lubrication is happening. So even if it hurts, try to stretch. And then try to stretch a little further the next time around. Try to make big circles with your arms, then maybe go a little bigger next time. Keep pushing yourself, and I promise you will see results.
As you age, if you keep your muscles strong, bones strong, and joints healthy, you will be able to walk up the stairs at age 80. You’ll be able to love on your grandchildren and great-grandchildren the way that you really want to. And you will be able to live your best life and find optimal health for what stage of life you are in. I said it before, but I will say it again. Yes, it will be hard. And yes, it will be worth it.