By Betty Figueroa, Dietetic Intern, Keiser University

During a visit for physical therapy on my knee after recovering from knee surgery, my physical therapist advised me, “Motion is Lotion.” To put it another way, she was telling me to keep moving my body. My knee would often hurt a lot before physical therapy, but it would feel so much better afterward. This pain occurs because your muscles stiffen, and you lose muscle tone when you stop moving regularly.

This stiffness is a reminder to be consistent! Rather than stopping and then restarting any exercise, it is easier (and better for you) to move a little bit each day. And when you get sore or don’t feel well, scale back on either the intensity or duration of exercise. A few minutes of simple stretches go a long way.

Movement is good for the BODY. Being inactive may make you more vulnerable to losing your independence. “If you don’t use it, you lose it,” as the adage goes. Regular physical activity does more than keep you limber. It also helps you manage other ailments.

Movement lowers the chances of heart disease and nerve damage while also lowering your blood pressure and blood sugar levels. Another advantage is that physical activity aids in weight management helps maintain or build muscle, and helps reduce body fat, all of which allow you to become stronger and more capable of moving around without falling. It can also help you sleep better.[1] Yet, the benefits of daily movement go beyond our physical bodies. I’m going to explain how exercise is also beneficial for the mind and soul.

Movement is good for the MIND. Movement is good for your body and mind as it can help you feel better by lowering anxiety and depression symptoms. Moving regularly aids in stress reduction and helps improve your concentration. It is the simplest and most effective way to improve concentration, motivation, memory, and mood by quickly releasing happy chemicals in your brain as these affect focus and attention.[2]

Movement is good for the SOUL. The social advantages of moving help people form ties with new friends and feel less lonely by connecting with new people. It is easier to maintain consistency and add accountability for yourself and others when you exercise together at the pool or group movement programs.[3]

Staying active will help you maintain your strength and stamina so you can get through your daily tasks. The good news is that physical activity and exercise need not be strenuous to be beneficial to your body. Start with 5–10 minutes and gradually increase to 30 minutes per day.[4] Whether you walk around the block or walk in-place, you can meet your daily target.  Lift your legs up and down, like marching in place, if you cannot walk.

Before beginning any physical activity, see your doctor. When you’ve received permission to begin, start slowly to minimize hurting yourself and choose something you enjoy doing so you’ll look forward to it. Don’t overdo it or do too much too soon to avoid burnout or injury. And write down your goal; people who write down their goals have a 42% better chance of succeeding than those who do not.[5]

There is no time like the present time to begin moving your body. Take your time and enjoy how good it makes your body, mind, and soul feel. Staying consistent with your friends will help you achieve your goal.

Some things to get you started:

YouTube video: 10 Best Seated Stretches & Exercises for Seniors and Office Workers.

Order a free copy of the book ‘Get Fit for Life’:

https://order.nia.nih.gov/publication/get-fit-for-life-exercise-physical-activity-for-healthy-aging

Download the PDF of the book ‘Get Fit for Life’:

https://order.nia.nih.gov/sites/default/files/2021-02/exercise-physical-activity-get-fit4-life.pdf


[1] Olson, R., Piercy, K., Troiano, R., Ballard, R., Fulton, J., Galuska, D., … Olscamp, K. (2018). Physical activity guidelines (2nd ed.). U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

https://health.gov/sites/default/files/2019-09/Physical_Activity_Guidelines_2nd_edition.pdf#page=43

[2] Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA). (2019). Physical activity reduces stress.

https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/related-illnesses/other-related-conditions/stress/physical-activity-reduces-st

[3] National Institute on Aging. (2020). Get fit for life (NIH Publication No. 20-AG-8135). U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health.

https://order.nia.nih.gov/sites/default/files/2021-02/exercise-physical-activity-get-fit4-life.pdf

[4] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2021). How much physical activity do older adults need?

https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/older_adults/index.htm

[5] Grant, M. (2017, June 5).  The argument for writing down your goals. Bustle.

https://www.bustle.com/p/write-down-your-goals-research-has-shown-time-time-again-your-future-self-will-thank-you-for-it-62036

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