Change your lifestyle to better your health

Published 9:07 am Friday, September 19, 2014

The other day, Curves hosted a Business After Hours reception for the community. If you’re not already familiar with it, the place is a space for women to exercise and support one another in individualized goals to become healthier and therefore happier.

And whereas most such social events might include alcohol and heavy hors d’oeuvres, this one featured tasty and heart-healthy snacks. Guests also got to see Curves in action as members went through their 30-minute circuit training, seemingly oblivious to what was going on around them. They were focused on their personal missions.

Commitment to changing one’s lifestyle is an important element of the Curves program. It’s also the ingredient that anyone — women and men — can blend throughly into their own lives to achieve better health.

The National Institutes of Health offers these suggestions:

• Be as Active as Possible. Regular physical activity and exercise are important to the physical and mental health of almost everyone, including older adults. Staying physically active and exercising regularly can produce long-term health benefits and even improve health for some older people who already have diseases and disabilities.

• Being Inactive Can Be Risky. Some are afraid that exercise will be too hard or that physical activity will harm them. Others might think they have to join a gym or have special equipment. Yet, studies show that “taking it easy” is risky. For the most part, when older people lose their ability to do things on their own, it doesn’t happen just because they’ve aged. It’s usually because they’re not active.

• Prevent or Delay Disease. Scientists have found that staying physically active and exercising regularly can help prevent or delay many diseases and disabilities. In some cases, exercise is an effective treatment for many chronic conditions. For example, studies show that people with arthritis, heart disease or diabetes benefit from regular exercise. Exercise also helps people with high blood pressure, balance problems or difficulty walking.

• Manage Stress, Improve Mood. Regular, moderate physical activity can help manage stress and improve your mood. And, being active on a regular basis may help reduce feelings of depression. Studies also suggest that exercise can improve or maintain some aspects of cognitive function, such as your ability to shift quickly between tasks, plan an activity and ignore irrelevant information.

• Physical Activity or Exercise? Some people may wonder what the difference is between physical activity and exercise. Physical activities are activities that get your body moving such as gardening, walking the dog and taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Exercise is a form of physical activity that is specifically planned, structured and repetitive such as weight training, tai chi or an aerobics class. Including both in your life will provide you with health benefits that can help you feel better and enjoy life more as you age.