Many people exercise ‘to lose weight’, ‘to complete the marathon and earn a medal’, or ‘to tone up a bit’. Fitness is almost seen as a temporary thing – people reach their goal and then, more often than not, they give up. They’ve achieved what they wanted to achieve, it required dedication, and there’s a burger waiting at the end of it.
When you’re exercising, don’t just think of the ‘now’.
What’s under the surface?
When a majority of people exercise or work out, they look for what’s above the surface as their motivation and justification.
“I’m doing well, because I lost a bit of weight.”
“I’m doing well because I ran 10k this week and it’s the furthest I’ve ever run.”
“I’m doing well because I can see a six pack forming.”
In reality, the most important benefits of exercise are often invisible. If you could see the impact of the modern lifestyle on your organs, or if you could see how your body would deteriorate if you weren’t keeping active, you’d find a level of motivation that most people never discover.
The long-term benefits of keeping fit
Exercise has lasting effects on the body. By continuing to keep active, you keep your body constantly in an ‘improved’ or ‘better’ state. Even a short walk once a day will lead to increased health and fitness.
As you age, keeping active is more important than ever before. Most people are tempted to stop exercising as they get older because there’s an assumption that old people don’t move around much, that they should be shuffling from place to place and should set up camp in an armchair by the window for their remaining years. The stereotype of an ‘old person’ is a self-fulfilling prophecy – we don’t exercise because old people aren’t active, so we’re unable to exercise by the time we reach their age.
Modifying your exercise as you age
In all stages of your life it’s important to know and work within the limits of your body. You shouldn’t push yourself too hard. As you reach your retirement years, you need to be even more aware of your own abilities. Don’t do too much, but also be sure not to underestimate what your body is capable of.
Some older people can run marathons. Fauja Singh currently holds the record for being the World’s Oldest Marathon Runner and was competing in long-distance races beyond the age of 100. The reality for most is that marathons are out of reach at that age, though that doesn’t mean that elderly people can’t be active in other ways. Many enjoy walking or take up dancing, go bowling or play golf – these low-impact activities are fun and keep you moving, even if you’re no longer able to do more extreme sports.
By staying active throughout your life, from childhood right through until your latter years, you’ll give your body the best possible chance of staying healthy, working for longer and fighting off any illness. It’s never too late to make an impact, either – if you’ve not been active for years, there’s no better time to start than right now.
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