Regular physical activity is beneficial to one’s physical and mental health. It is safe to say that no matter what your size, shape or age, an active lifestyle is one of the most important things you can do for well-being. Physical activity includes any body movement that requires more energy than resting. This means that walking to the mailbox outside, gardening, pushing a stroller or taking the trash out counts as physical activity. Exercise, however, is planned and structured physical activity which includes more vigor or intensity like weightlifting or cardio activity. 

According to the fact sheet, “Keys to Embracing Aging: Physical Activity,” there are a host of reasons why physical activity is important. First, bones and muscles can be strengthened, cardiovascular (heart) health improves, flexibility increases and mental health or mood can improve. Physical activity can protect against certain health conditions like heart disease, stroke, hypertension, obesity, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, colon cancer, depression, Alzheimer’s disease, dementia and the risk of falling. Brain function improves along with the quality of life and ability to do daily life. Best of all, it increases energy, promotes restful sleep and contributes to longevity. There are plenty of research-based reasons why someone should get active, but each individual person needs their own reason why. Whether you want to stay nimble to keep up with the grandkids, increase your endurance in order to enjoy trips abroad or simply want to move comfortably and age in your home, you need a reason to stay motivated. Physical activity is a habitual practice, just like eating daily fruits and veggies, so prioritize movement and take care of your health.

An easy and effective program called Stay Strong, Stay Healthy is an eight-week exercise program that incorporates the latest research to help you develop the fitness, flexibility and balance you need to live independently longer. In hour-long courses held twice a week, trained instructors will lead you through a warmup, easy-to-learn strength exercises and a cool-down. K-State Research and Extension – Leavenworth County is offering a Stay Strong, Stay Healthy program October through December on Mondays and Wednesdays from 10:15-11:15 a.m. at the Council on Aging in Leavenworth. If you would like more information on this affordable class or for your own copy of “Keys to Embracing Aging: Physical Activity,” by Yelland, Hosier and Traywick, please contact Chelsi Myer at chelsim@ksu.edu, by phone at 913-364-5700, or stop by the office at 613 Holiday Plaza in Lansing. Physical activity is vital to healthy living, no matter your age, so get out and get active today.

Chelsi Myer is a family and consumer sciences agent at K-State Research and Extension – Leavenworth County.