Exercise has benefits for nearly every body. It is effective both as a treatment and for prevention of disease. Here’s four ways you can help yourself by getting moving…
Dancing against Dementia
It’s thought that remembering steps and making split-second adjustments to your movements stimulates the brain’s ability to make new connections between cells. Music itself is believed to have a therapeutic effect, and the social interaction involved in dancing helps boost mental health.
Regular dancing is linked to a 76% reduction in the likelihood of developing dementia, according to US researchers, who studied the link between leisure activities and dementia risk.
Dancing is also beneficial for dementia patients. A New Zealand study found that older adults with dementia appeared to have experienced an improved quality of life after exposure to music and dance.
It doesn’t matter which step you do, so choose a dance type you enjoy, whether that’s waltz, salsa or something else. There are other proven mental health benefits of dance, including a reduced risk of depression and anxiety. Dancing also can affect your mood by raising levels of our natural feel-good hormones, dopamine and serotonin.
Cycling for your Immunity
Cycling can hold back the effects of ageing and rejuvenate the immune system, a study has found.
Scientists at the University of Birmingham found cyclists aged 54-79 produced more immune cells (T-cells), the production of which usually starts to shrink from your 20s. They also preserved muscle mass and strength with age while maintaining stable levels of body fat and cholesterol.
You can integrate it into your lifestyle, simply as part of your movement pattern. Regular moderate exercise is more beneficial than one big weekly workout, so it makes physical and economic sense to incorporate your bike ride into your everyday exercise.
Walking for Insomnia
A study has shown that moderately intense aerobic exercise, such as walking, reduces the time it takes you to nod off and increases the duration of sleep.
It could in part be due to the release of anxiety-busting brain chemicals such as serotonin, and the rise and subsequent fall in body temperature that helps promote sleep. Walking outside in natural daylight also helps to set your circadian biological clock – your natural sleep-wake cycle, which controls the release of the sleepy hormone melatonin. And it’s not just great for a good night’s sleep. Walking helps to protect against cardiovascular diseases, cancer, bone-thinning osteoporosis, and dementia. It’s also good for our mental health to get outside and see gardens or green spaces, and walking can be sociable too.
Tennis for Osteoporosis
Regular weight-bearing activity, such as racquet sports, can help maintain bone density. Bone is a living tissue, which grows stronger with the force of our muscles pulling against it. Exercise can help delay the rate of age-related bone density loss. Osteoporosis is a condition where bone density and quality are reduced, and it affects more than two million women in the UK. After the menopause, when the protective effect of oestrogen on the bone is removed, there is often an accelerated rate of bone loss. So playing tennis in later life is a great way to keep bones healthy. Another great reason to play tennis is that it can add 10 years to your life! It’s thought the social side of the game as well as the physical activity boosts longevity.