As we approach cooler weather and shorter days, many of us will find ourselves sitting inside and watching television just a little bit more. I, too, love some of the programs in the evening. However, it is so easy to finish dinner and simply relax in the recliner for the entire evening. Therefore, we need to focus on things to do for socialization and activities to keep both our mind and bodies active. Of course, we know we can head to our local senior center for the day. There, we have activities, exercise, programs, socialization and a great meal waiting for you.

However, do you know why you should exercise? Yes, there are plenty of reasons to exercise, and many benefits of doing so. Let’s cover several of them this month.

• Exercise can make you feel happier. By exercising regularly, you may find your mood improved and any feelings of anxiety and depression reduced. One of my favorite ways to exercise is taking the grandkids on bike rides or walks. We find many things to see, talk and laugh about during this time. I have found exercise and laughter go great together, especially with a 3- and a 5-year-old. Not only am I exercising, but I’m loving the “Grammie” time I spend with them as well.

• Exercise is very important when it comes to supporting a faster metabolism and burning more calories per day. It also helps maintain your muscle mass and weight.

• Physical activities help build muscles and strong bones.

• Daily activity is essential to maintaining a healthy weight and reducing the risk of chronic disease.

• Regular physical activity can help you sleep better and feel more energized during the day.

Now that we know the benefits of exercise, how can we include it in our day? There are a multitude of ways to easily add exercise and physical activity to your day. Many folks have pets, so it is easy to play with the dog in the yard or take him or her for a short walk. No pet? No problem! Walk around the neighborhood with friends or by yourself. I often find others out for walks or working in the yard, so I not only exercise but also have a short visit with the neighbors as an added benefit. When shopping, park a little farther away from the front door. You can exercise before getting inside the store, and while inside, take a couple of trips around the store while doing your shopping.

Also, check with your local senior center; almost all of our centers have exercise equipment available daily for your use. The Carl Junction and Neosho centers also have indoor walking tracks available. The majority of our senior centers have exercise classes offered throughout the week as well. Call your center or stop by for lunch soon, and check out the many opportunities for exercise they have available to help you to become a better you.

See you soon at the center.

STEPHANIE DENHAM is the nutrition program director for AAAX.

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