Physical activity and healthy aging go hand-in-hand together. Whether you love or hate exercise, physical activity is a crucial key factor in healthy aging. If physical activity levels are known to reduce our risk for chronic diseases and extend our lives, why is the level of people getting physical activity decreasing?
Physical activity and exercise are two very different concepts. Physical activity is any body movement that uses skeletal muscles and results in energy expenditure. Exercise is a specific type of physical activity but is planned, repetitive, and done for a particular purpose. Exercise improves health, physical function, and fitness.
What is the Active Grandparent Theory?
The active grandparent hypothesis suggests that regular physical activity and a healthy diet can lead to a longer lifespan, stay younger longer, and prevent chronic diseases. Getting enough physical activity, especially during middle and older age, promotes health by controlling fat storage and even helps to stimulate the body to use energy to repair and maintain youth.
As a result of habitual physical activity, human health span, and lifespans are extended and help to explain why those who do not remain active throughout their life have an increased risk of disease and shorter lifespan.
Physical activity decreases morbidity and mortality through biological changes that help us retain our functional capacity and avoid disease as we age. Regular physical activity is not just for weight loss or to prevent weight gain. Consistent physical activity helps maintain normal blood pressure, helps lower cholesterol levels in our bloodstream, reduces systemic inflammation, decreases our stress levels, and stimulates the production of neurotransmitters that increase our mood. 
Physical Activity Requirements
Studies show 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity or 75 minutes each week of vigorous-intensity physical activity is needed. Aerobic physical activity reduces the relative risk for all-cause mortality by 50% and benefits such as decreased risk of hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer's, and many cancers (Lieberman, 2021). While working towards these minutes, focus on increasing your daily steps, ideally to 10,000 steps each day.
For adults aged 65 and older, these numbers will stay the same for how many minutes each week to achieve through aerobic physical activity, but how you get these may differ. Those 150 moderate-intensity minutes each week will also be accompanied by two days of the week with activities that strengthen muscles and movements that will improve balance. 
150 minutes may seem like a lot, but let's break this down. Getting 30 minutes five times a week of physical activity is recommended; 30 x 5 = 150 minutes. This does not mean you need to go out and get a big sweat on. Yardwork and housework play into these overall numbers. The most important thing is getting moving.
When trying to accomplish all these weekly physical activity requirements, you must speak with your healthcare provider about your limitations, as this will change how you begin your health journey.
What Counts as Physical Activity?
Aerobic physical activity is also known as your cardio. Cardio is what gets you breathing harder and your heart beating faster. A few great activities include:
- Mowing the lawn or raking the leaves.
- Learning a new dance.
- Walking to the store or taking a hike.
- Doing active forms of yoga.
- Riding a bike.
- Joining a water aerobics class.
The way to identify the difference between moderate- and vigorous-intensified is when working out, you will feel like one is more challenging than the other. Moderate intensity is usually a 5 or 6 on a scale of 10, making your breathing harder and your heart beat faster, but you can still talk. Vigorous intensity is a 7 or 8 on this scale, and your breathing and heart rate will increase quite a bit, and you will not be able to say more than a few words at a time.
It is important to know everyone is on a different fitness journey. A vigorous intensity to you may be a moderate intensity for someone else. There is no comparison to others; this is YOUR journey. 
If you are struggling due to limitations or pain, speak with your doctor because it is essential when getting physical activity you are doing things correctly to prevent injury. Working with a physical therapist to help with strength and balance would be a great way to build stability and ensure the form is correct.
Ways to Track your Accomplishments
We have so many technological advancements that can track our activity and how many steps we take daily. Our wearable technology provides snapshots of our overall health while wearing these devices. Many are on the market today, and they range in price depending on how you intend to use these.
If you do not want to invest in an expensive watch or cannot afford that cost, that's okay. Using a journal to document your journey is an easy and effective way to track your progress. Just like journaling your feelings, you get to journal progress which is just as satisfying. Each day you make an entry, ensure you put the date and what you are doing on the page. Make a note of how you are feeling that day.
Pre- and post-workout status is a non-weight-based way to track progress because the workouts will start to feel different over time. You will begin to notice you are getting better flexibility, getting more muscular, and your range of motion is increasing. These are all fantastic ways to track just how wonderful you are progressing in the gym.
Overall, this is YOUR journey. Your journey consists of different methods for getting healthy and maintaining your journey. Consistency is critical; changes do not happen overnight and take time. Slow down and enjoy the changes; your body will thank you and reward you
Choosing a healthy plant-based and vegan diet is most beneficial when it comes to:
Higher levels of energy;
Aids in energy and overall happiness;
Provides a sense of comfort and relief;
Could prevent major diseases such as obesity and diabetes;
Accomplish weight-loss and management; and
Improves mental and cognitive functioning.
There are really no excuses not to try healthier habits in your everyday life. If you are a man or woman looking for specific benefits of adopting healthier habits or just want to know about the general healing properties of herbs. Please remember to comment or post any health questions, or contact us directly!
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