Scientists have found the Fountain of Youth! OK, it’s not a literal fountain. Instead, it’s exercise. Research shows physical fitness reverses the effects of ageing on your cardiovascular system. But you don’t want to wait until heart failure develops to enjoy the benefits of outdoor exercise and wellness. Here’s why you need to join the crowd on this one.

It really does keep you young
A 75-year-old who exercises is no different inside than a 45-year-old. That’s according to the Human Performance Laboratory at Ball State University. Researchers looked at senior citizens who had been running or cycling for decades. They found their hearts were about 30 years younger than the hearts of more sedentary seniors. And their 70-something-year-old muscles weren’t much different than the muscles of 20-somethings. No spa can promise you those kinds of results.

It’s good for your mental health
If getting outside and exercising is good for your physical health, imagine what it does for your mental health. Any form of exercise, from team sports to mowing the lawn, can lower stress, decrease depression and improve mental health, according to a 2018 study. People who get outdoors have less stress and depression and more mental well-being than people who do not. Aerobic exercise, like running, cycling, walking or even gardening, increases the blood flow to the brain.

It helps you sleep better
We’ve all used the excuse, “I’m too exhausted to exercise. Yet even after a long day, you end up tossing and turning instead of getting a good night’s rest. A good workout strengthens your circadian rhythms and helps you get the sleep you need so you’ll have more energy during the day. A word of warning: don’t work out close to bedtime, or you might be too wound up to fall asleep right away.

It boosts your social life
It might seem like a stretch to say that getting outside and working out is good for the community, but it can have a big social payoff. It’s a no-brainer that in order to meet people, you have to get out of the house and go where people are – and people tend to be drawn to areas that have trees. People who spend more time outside are more likely to feel a sense of unity in their neighbourhoods. And that sense of unity can lead to better, safer neighbourhoods, with less crime and more solid bonds between the people.

You don’t need to start training for an Ironman triathlon to reap the rewards of exercising outside. Experts say you only need to exercise about half an hour a day, five days a week to get all the benefits of outdoor wellness. As for why you need to join the crowd on this one, there’s a segment of the population that makes working out and getting outside a regular part of their schedule and there’s a segment of the population that doesn’t. You can probably guess which one has a better heart health and quality of life that lasts well into old age.

Post by Laura Dexter
Laura Dexter is an avid hiker and runner who travels around the country, taking part in marathons and 10ks throughout the year. When she’s not writing about her races or travels, you’ll find her hiking in Colorado with her husband and three children

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