Aug 30, 2022
If you need just one more little nudge to get out the door, or turn on the exercise video today, this post is full of reasons to exercise after 50… unrelated to weight loss. Though, full-disclaimer, weight control, specifically body composition is always a benefit if your dose-response ratio is right.
An article in the NYTimes Well post on August 24 got the attention of exercisers. The article relayed a recent study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine (August 2022) connecting exercise to longevity. Even though not new news, hearing the exercise you’re doing has specific benefits reinforces your choices and commitment. With ongoing research on placebo effect, we also know that consciously plugging into the benefit of the exercise you’re doing, amplifies the results.
But let’s face it, as we get closer to death, longevity means more. If we’ve lost some significant health ground during the pandemic due to illness or inactivity, there’s a greater chance that we are motivated more by fear.
But what about the rest of us?
You look pretty good. You, nor anyone else, thinks you need to lose weight.
Even so, there are reasons to exercise after 50
Stress kills. It’s directly.. Not indirectly, associated with over 85 diseases. And if you produce endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine - all responsible for a good mood - during exercise your cortisol level is lowered. They can’t all be up. So.. produce those feel-good neurotransmitters and you can not only be in a (1) better mood… (2) you decrease risk of disease.
How much exercise?
Jogging 15 minutes or walking an hour decreased risk of depression by 26%. That’s a big deal considering 41% of midlife women deal with depression and 51% with anxiety.
(3) You sleep better. Just 10 minutes of self-selected exercise intensity improved sleep quality by 33% according to a National Sleep Foundation survey. How fast it happens? Past participants in the Hot, Not Bothered10-Day Challenge said they experienced better sleep by the 3rd day.
(4) You have more energy. Now this one may naturally be tied to sleep. You’re not sleeping, you start sleeping, you’re going to feel better. You also produce more mitochondria when you exercise with adequate intensity.
This one’s also tricky. Those who are over exercising, under recovering, or both are just sabotaging themselves thinking that feeling lousy will some day miraculously make them more fit. Never going to happen. The winner is almost always the athlete who shows up for game/race day better rested. Playing this game of life is no different.
Contrary to popular belief, the right exercise (5) curbs a crazy appetite by controlling blood sugar, and improves a sluggish appetite because it gets things moving and improves the function of everything, including your thyroid which contributes to metabolism. (6)
You will find less risk of visceral belly fat (reduced by 6% over 12 weeks for women using HIE training but insulin sensitivity didn’t change from exercise alone, indicating that post menopause a reduction of carbohydrates overall, and a switch to the type and timing of carbohydrate consumed is also important.
When you have an appetite and a healthy metabolism (though I know we’re flirting with weight loss - that’s not where I’m going), you may feel more frisky. That and exercise of almost all kinds gets you moving your hips more. Blood flow to your pelvis, (7) better digestion* from exercise itself and from eating better that naturally results, as well as and improved metabolism could also improve your libido (8).
Better digestion from exercise?
“Exercise can enhance the number of beneficial microbial species, enrich the microflora diversity, and improve the development of commensal bacteria.” These are all positive effects on gut health.
What kinds of exercise helps libido?
It seems all kinds within a sweet spot. That is more exercise was associated with less chance of sexual disfunction. However, over training or exercise that exacerbates adrenal fatigue and will have the opposite effect.They types of exercise include weight training - that stimulates testosterone, short intense intervals, and those like pilates or yoga, that increase blood flow to the hips specifically. Of course, the specific pelvic floor exercise, kegels will do good.
For women, sexual arousal is short-lived. Though there may be an overall level of sexual activity in women who are active, the rise of hormones that improves sex means shortly after exercise is a good time for.. Well, a good time.
In case you didn’t know, exercise is one of the best things you can do for your brain. Aside from happy transmitters, more muscle mass is associated with reduced risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia. (9).
Brain-Related Reasons to Exercise After 50
For every 1 unit of muscle strength, there was a 43% decrease in the incidence of Alzheimer's Disease. What types of strength training? Using the minimum dose of 2x a week strength training, where AD was present, that was using machines to eliminate cognitive issues from becoming an obstacle. The inclusion of power exercises (fast twitch muscle), and of cognitive games during the strength exercise was also beneficial.
Count by 3s as you do each repetition, recite your phone number backward between sets, learn someone else’s phone number, recite it, then backward, tell me your phone number by number first, area code next and your middle digits last between sets. Determine your age in 1977, or how old your grandmother would be today if she were alive.
You’re more attractive. There’s no faking health. Not really. You can definitely buy anything these days. Implants, which run a risk, botox, hair extensions, nails… you name it. But one thing you can’t fake is real health. Your eyes shine or they don’t. Your skin glows or it doesn’t. Look in the mirror when you exercise and you’ll see it. The increased circulation and elimination of toxins through sweat as well as waste removal internally… it all adds up. No way to fake that. (10)
A Camera-Ready Move
Besides improving lymphatic flow that can decrease puffiness around the eyes (the morning before a photo shoot my photographer found me on the treadmill about an hour before the shoot doing a quick 20-minute interval session because I hadn’t slept well), science shows that the skin of aging athletes was more resilient than that of couch potatoes.
That? Brings us back to the conversation about mitochondria. It’s about both boosting the cellular level production of mitochondria where you change the way you age. (Listen to the explanation of mitochondria and the benefit of algae in your diet).
And bonus… confidence. (11) If you’re lifting weights, especially, the change in your posture is reflected in the way you carry yourself. People turn to watch confidence walk in the room. More than just a beautiful woman, it’s confidence that captures attention and holds it.
For midlife women especially, who go through so many changes, some that may deal a blow to the self-esteem or body confidence, exercise added a big boost.
What’s your biggest of these non-scale reasons to exercise after 50?
New York Times article:
Mitochondria and algae: https://www.flippingfifty.com/mitochondria/
Flipping 50 TV libido: https://www.flippingfifty.com/get-your-libido-back-episode-3/
EnergyBits code: debra for 20% off! HERE: https://www.energybits.com/
10-Day Hot, Not Bothered Challenge: https://www.flippingfifty.com/hnb-challenge