— by Cate Stevenson, BA
Time for a little encouragement to keep exercising. Why should you keep moving? Well, as you likely know by now, exercise can improve your circulation, especially in your arms and legs, where people can suffer tendon and muscle damage as well as other problems.
Exercise can help reduce your cholesterol and high blood pressure. High cholesterol and high blood pressure can lead to the risk of a heart attack or stroke — two stressful and frightening conditions.
Exercise also helps reduce stress, which is known to cause all kinds of health problems. In some people, exercise combined with a diet plan could even control Type 2 diabetes without the need for any medications.
Now here’s another benefit to add to the list: regular exercise could reduce the risk of falls in both young and old. Falls are a big problem in the U.S., with an estimated eight million people seeking treatment in emergency rooms annually.
University of Pittsburgh researchers analyzed data from people taking part in the Aerobics Center Longitudinal Study. The study ran from 1970 to 1989, with a follow-up survey conducted in 1990. The survey asked participants whether they had fallen within the previous year and, if so, what they were doing when they fell.
The participants also took a treadmill test and answered questions about how many minutes of aerobic exercise they got each week. The research team found that 20% of the participants reported falling in the previous year, with 15% of those falling while walking.
It seems that women were more than twice as likely as men to fall while walking, but the women’s fitness levels appeared to make little difference. Fitness levels in men were more important, however: men with low fitness levels were twice as likely to fall compared to men with high fitness levels.
The research team was surprised to find that fitness and physical activity seem to have a stronger relationship with walking-related falls in men compared with women. The researchers suggested that everyone should get about two hours of exercise a week to reduce the risk of falls.
So there you have it — you need to get two hours of exercise a week. That doesn’t sound too difficult, does it? Remember that you can exercise with a partner, join a sports team, or head to the swimming pool. There are an infinite number of ways to get your body moving — the choice is yours, as are the health benefits!