Many Americans purchase multiple insurance policies to protect the future for themselves and their loved ones. Although the monetary cost is affordable and a huge payoff is virtually guaranteed, most older Americans do not seriously consider investing in quality-of-life insurance in the form of an active lifestyle.
Here are some relevant statistics from the Center for Disease Control’s 2014 National Health Interview Survey. For Americans age 65 and older: 44 percent are inactive, meaning not involved in activity beyond the basic movements needed for daily life: 74 percent do not meet the 2008 federal aerobic activity guidelines; and 95 percent do not meet the 2008 federal muscle-strengthening activity guidelines.
Why invest in aerobic activity? A 2014 AARP survey found that half of Americans believe that games and mental tasks like Sudoku, crossword puzzles and computer training will keep their brain healthy. And, there is a good amount of anecdotal data to support this belief. However, AARP science writer Elizabeth Agnvall wrote that there is little hard evidence to support this view. On the other hand, in a study done at the University of British Columbia (UBC), researchers found that regular aerobic exercise, the kind that gets your heart and your sweat glands pumping, appears to boost the size of the hippocampus, the brain area involved in verbal memory and learning. Other studies have corroborated UBC’s findings. Aerobic exercise is known to improve mood and sleep, and to reduce stress and anxiety. Problems in these areas frequently cause or contribute to cognitive impairment. Beyond memory and thinking, aerobic exercise is credited with reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s, heart disease, diabetes, stroke and certain types of cancer.
Why invest in muscle-strengthening activity? It’s hard to believe that only 5% of Americans 65 and older meet the federal standard for this activity. However, that’s good news for you if you want to move quickly to the head of the class. The benefits of muscle-strengthening are many and to a great extent are associated with maintaining the ability to lead an independent life and enjoy the activities you love. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, benefits include: improvements in muscle strength and endurance and increased muscle mass, which translates into improvements in functional capacity. In addition, many muscle-strengthening activities are considered beneficial in improving bone density and combating the effects of osteoporosis.
The investments alluded to above are probably avoided by many because these investments have more to do with time than money. Many seniors simply do not want to give up time that could be spent elsewhere. However, if you set aside 4 hours a week (including travel time) for moderate exercise, your time investment over 10 years would be a bit over 2,000 hours. That equals about a 3 month time investment in exercise for which you should expect at least a triple digit percentage return in months of quality life. In addition, shortly after you become more active you will become a higher functioning being both physically and mentally. If only financial investing was this easy.
CRUfit Montclair offers low impact group exercise classes and personal training for older adults in a fun and friendly setting. Older adult class options include: an on-ramp class for those who have been inactive or injured, functional movement, rowing and Zumba Gold (Latin-inspired dance) classes.