Exercise is critical, especially as the population of our country ages. It is essential for preventing the onset of many diseases such as heart disease and diabetes, as well as being influential in ceasing destructive habits. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, “maintaining a healthy body mass index, not smoking and being physically active are associated with higher fitness levels throughout adult life.”
What is happening as our population ages, is it becomes harder for the individual to undo some of the damage that has already been done from a sedentary lifestyle. It is one of the primary reasons we see an increase in disease. Did you ever notice how difficult it might be for a deconditioned, older adult to catch their breath after walking up a flight of steps. This relates directly to their cardiorespiratory fitness level which studies show declines after age 45. That level of cardiorespiratory fitness carries over into one’s body fat composition and ability to perform everyday “lifeskills” or tasks with ease. A low fitness level will also eventually affect one’s ability to live independently as they age.
Ladies, there is good news for you versus men. Studies show the decline in cardiorespiratory fitness is greater for men than for women. However, studies also show that heart disease is the number one killer among women. Nearly 5 million people a year are diagnosed with coronary heart disease. Cardiovascular workouts are key in burning fat and keeping the heart strong. Maintaining a healthy weight and cardiovascular conditioning are primary factors in the prevention of heart disease.
The result of living a sedentary lifestyle has ultimately caused a decline in America’s health. This perpetuated hefty healthcare expenses and ultimately fueled the latest debate in Washington. While I do believe there needs to be some type of overhaul in the system, I think we all have a personal responsibility to do what is good for our bodies, so we can live longer, productive lives. Even with a new healthcare system, it will be difficult for the United States to bear the cost of medical expenses as America ages.