No matter our age, we want to be happy…don’t we? As if we needed another reason to get off the couch, a new study reported by Reuters informs us gal baby boomers that doing “moderate” exercise can make us happier than if we try to emulate an Olympic athlete. That’s because really “vigorous” activity can be stressful or overwhelming, while moderate get-up-and go can inspire us to keep exercising longer on a regular basis: Fits and starts don’t pay off handsomely in the long term, but consistency does. Moderation feels like something we can manage, and gives us a sense of control and accomplishment.
Here’s the not-so-happy truth: “Middle-aged women are among the least active and their level of physical activity declines with age,” the story reported. We female boomers can’t change the age factor, but we can change our activity level.
The mind-body connection
The study followed 255 women ages 40 to 60, and its lead author was Dr. Steriani Elavsky, of Penn State University. She and her colleagues “found that moderate intensity exercise caused more women to report later that they were in a better mood and to have greater feelings of energy, psychological wellbeing and self-efficacy,” the news service reported.
Amazingly, women in the study who did moderate exercise had better results in a number of areas than women who did vigorous exercise—meaning they could not tolerate the intensity, said the authors. Moderate was also defined by whether participants could talk in short sentences, but not sing. Mood improvements were stronger in the group that exercised moderately versus vigorously, which I do find surprising. The moderate group also exhibited more energy and confidence to exercise again in the future.
Not so hard to do
Physically active female baby boomers make physical activity a regular occurrence in their lives. Other women have neither the time or interest, and may find physical challenges further impair their motivation and abilities. This study found that activities deemed “moderate” may be things you do anyway, according to Reuters.
Consider this list of moderates, the story suggests: “brisk walking, ballroom and line dancing, biking on level ground or with few hills, canoeing, general gardening including raking, trimming shrubs, sports such as baseball, softball, volleyball, tennis (doubles) and water aerobics.” Now, who couldn’t find something there that’s fun and good for you, too?
Take-away message: “All things in moderation,” including exercise.
(Photo courtesy: © Franz Pfluegl | Dreamstime.com)