University of Illinois researchers have documented what most people intuitively know to be true: The more active people are, the better they feel – physically and emotionally.
UI Professors Edward McAuley and Robert Motl, both kinesiologists, and Ed Diener, a psychologist, came to their conclusions based on a five-year examination of the physical and psychological benefits to senior citizens who made the transition from a sedentary to more physically active lifestyle. Their results: The seniors who maintained active programs were not only physically stronger but more confident and content.
It makes sense. Physical exercise, even something as moderate and ordinary as walking the dog, shakes the cob webs loose and gets people outside where they are subject to a greater stimulation and connection to others. It's living, not lethargy.
Most importantly, the researchers concluded that physical activity not only is likely to help extend a person's life but enhance the quality of the life that is lived.
Taking up an exercise program can be a daunting challenge for many people, particularly seniors unused to the routine. But the good news is that people don't have to do much to help themselves.
Thirty minutes accumulated over a day, according to McAuley, can produce results if people keep it up for five days a week. And one need not spend time sweating on a treadmill, although that works. People can stay active by cleaning up the house or weeding the garden.
The researchers discovered that the physical and psychological benefits of staying active go hand in hand. So if you're walking, working at home or visiting the Y, keep it up. It's good for you.
If you're not, get off the couch and try to get moving. You'll be glad you did. The research says so.