Physical Activity

Physical activity never gets old!

Staying physically active is good for your brain and your body. Research shows that physical activity is a strong promoter of NEUROPLASTICITY – your brain’s ability to grow and form new connections. We now know that brains continue to grow, develop, and make connections well into old age. Physical activity is central to optimal aging and brain health.

  • Exercise boosts your brain’s resilience and ability to cope with stress and challenges.
  • Lower risk of chronic disease, disability & falls
  • Lower risk of dementia
  • Improved function and independence
  • Better quality of sleep
  • Improved overall mood
  • Increased longevity

Where to start?

Staying physically active is an important part of optimal aging. It turns out “sitting is the new smoking:” being sedentary takes a huge toll on your health over time. The good news is you just have to move, and any kind of activity will help! Here are some ideas to help you increase your physical activity level.

  • Just move: Many health problems are associated with sitting for long periods of time. By getting up and moving, you can reduce your risk of physical health problems and improve your longevity.
  • Walk: Walking can increase longevity, help you maintain independence, and decrease your risk of dementia. Leave the car at home!
  • Do more of what you normally do: Engaging in daily activities such as household chores and gardening not only add to your level of physical activity, but maintain your ability to function at home.
  • Do what you enjoy: Physical activity can feel like a chore, but if you enjoy the activity, you’ll be more likely to keep doing it and to get better at it.
  • Join your local fitness of community centre: Conditioning programs are great for improving your cardiovascular fitness, but they also improve self-image, energy, and maintain cognitive health.
  • Try something new: There are lots of activities out there that may be just right for you. Yoga, tai chi and qi gong are some examples of mind-body exercises that can improve your quality of sleep and energy levels. Or try a new sport for both physical and social benefits.
  • Do balancing exercises: Balance and co-ordination training can decrease your risk of falls and help to maintain function in activities of daily living. The better your balance, the more likely you are to stay independent.
  • Talk to your doctor: To be sure you safely incorporate physical activity into your daily routine or to learn what activities are best for you, a chat with your doctor can be the best place to start.

Set a goal!

To tap into your fountain of health for optimal aging, set a physical activity goal from the list above, or choose one of your own. Remember the more specific, measurable and realistic your goal is, the more likely you are to succeed!

For example, if your physical activity goal is to walk more, make it more specific by choosing a time of day, duration, location and day of the week. Think about what you might do in bad weather – can you walk in a mall?  Start out with a small and achievable distance and frequency so you are more likely to succeed.

Once you set your physical activity goal, keep track of it by emailing your goal to yourself, or share it with others by email or facebook~ you might just help to inspire someone else!

Share your goal:

Still not sure what to do?

Learn more about the science behind physical activity in our Evidence Base and find helpful links available on our Resources page.