Fearless Aging: Getting active now builds positive winter habits

One study showed a single session of exercise increased activation in the brain circuits associated with memory

Fall is an incredibly beautiful time of year, offering plenty of sunshine, cooler temperatures and, of course, the spectacular colors of leaves and foliage.

It also is the perfect time to begin walking near your home or taking hikes on the many wonderful forest and park trails available in our area.

Begin by walking five to 10 minutes each day. You will build a new routine that in time will become a healthy habit you’ll likely come to enjoy.

Walking is one of the best forms of exercise that burns calories, elevates your heart rate and helps maintain a healthy balance through the development of leg muscles and trimming extra inches many of us added during the COVID-19 lockdown.

A recent study at the University of Maryland indicated a single session of exercise increased activation in the brain circuits associated with memory. That’s quite a bonus.

Other longer-term studies have shown that people who log more than 8,000 steps per day substantially lower their mortality rate. Wristwatch-type tracking devices and smartphone apps are useful in tracking step data, keeping you tuned in to your progress.

Although we don’t want to think about winter approaching, establishing a daily habit of movement will be important.

As long as the weather holds up, you can add a layer or two of clothing and stick with the program. Once the inclement weather arrives, you can keep that momentum going by shifting to a treadmill or indoor walking track.

There’s no better time to begin than today.

To keep you motivated, Elderwerks will be holding a Stepping Out to Fitness Challenge beginning Jan. 1.

The challenge is free and offers prizes during monthly drawings. If you track and submit your progress during each month of the three-month challenge your name will go into a drawing to win an Apple Watch.

Go to elderwerks.org or call 855-462-0100 for information.

• Jennifer Prell is president of Elderwerks Educational Services, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit offering complimentary information, referrals and guidance to older adults, seniors and their families for senior living, care, support and benefits. Go to elderwerks.org or call 855-462-0100 for personal assistance. Email questions to help@elderwerks.org.