At age 85, Ed Whitlock became the oldest man to complete a grueling 26.2 mile marathon in under 4 hours. During an interview he explained, “I believe people can do far more than they think they can.” He is probably right.
Typically, when it comes to physical and mental wellness the phrase “easier said than done” applies beautifully. While that may be true, Whitlock is proof positive that age doesn’t determine your abilities- you do. The trick is to find something you enjoy doing and turn it into your personalized workout routine.
Choose a Hobby You Already Love
Whitlock probably loved running, which is likely what kept him inspired to accomplish his goal. Is there a hobby you already enjoy that can be logged as physical activity? Consider tasks that can transform your exercise time into an enjoyable pastime. Here is a few examples of hobbies that can count for physical activity:
- Gardening requires you to use the majority of your muscle groups simultaneously, while you get some fresh air and vitamin D.
- Walking the dog, allows you to increase your heart rate, while strengthening your leg muscles. Believe it or not, simple muscle strengthening exercises can help you maintain your balance skills.
- Photography keeps you actively looking for your next shot. Beyond just walking from sight to sight, you have to lean, bend, stretch, and reach for the right position in order to capture the perfect photo.
- Traveling definitely requires a variety of movement. There are sight seeing tours to attend, pools to swim, buses to catch, and hiking trails to conquer.
If none of these are quite your speed, that is perfectly fine too. In fact, if you prefer quiet time at home, there are ways you can incorporate physical activity into that hobby as well. You can walk on a treadmill in the comfort of your living room, or use a stability ball while watching television. Here are a few other ideas for in-home workout routines. The goal is to find anything that will keep you motivated to stay active.
Turn Your Hobby Into Exercise
Now that you’ve found your active hobby, a few things needs to be monitored so that you can consider it exercise. If you are just beginning to increase your activity level, make sure you give yourself time to progress. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t feel results at first. Use these tips below as a guideline:
- Check with your doctor before completing significant or strenuous activities. Your physician will be able to give you advice based on your specific medical condition.
- Complete a minimum of two and a half hours of physical activity per week.
- Make sure you drink plenty of water through the activity.
- Make sure you monitor your level of activity so you don’t strain your body, and allow yourself time to rest.
Know the Mental Benefits of Physical Activity
Did you know that exercise can work to prevent dementia, insomnia, and depression? Staying active is also believed to have a positive impact on your brain’s ability to switch between tasks quickly, or filter information. Physical exercise, prevents the brain from fighting insulin, decreases inflammation, and supports proper chemicals that stimulate healthy brain cells. In short, this means that your memory is improved through physical activity, and you might find yourself a little more cheerful, too.
Take Advantage of the Physical Benefits of Exercise
Exercise is a method of prevention for several age-related diseases. It has been used as a treatment to help avoid arthritis and heart disease. Physical activity has also been proven to reduce the risk of breast cancer. In the long run, exercise can help keep you independent longer, because you will be physically strong enough to manage daily tasks.
Maybe your physical fitness journey hasn’t been a walk-in-the-park, but take it from Whitlock’s example, physical fitness is possible. Exercise doesn’t have to be arduous or irritating, but it can be full of the life you are already enjoying. So allow your hobby to benefit your physical and mental health.