Benefits Of Exercise For Seniors
Regular exercise is important for people of every age. It can improve cardiovascular health, strengthen muscles, boost mood and energy levels, help you maintain a healthy weight, and even reduce stress and improve sleep. Staying active becomes even more important as we age. Exercise promotes longevity and an improved quality of life, but only about a quarter of seniors report exercising regularly.
Increased independence, improved confidence and more opportunities to interact are all obvious benefits to being an active senior. Beyond that, there are six major benefits of exercise for seniors that should motivate you or a loved one to get moving.
How Does Exercise Help The Elderly?
Adopting a regular exercise routine, whether that means long walks around the neighborhood, water aerobics classes, or chasing your grandchildren around the backyard, can lead to great benefits. Here are six big ones.
- Live longer, happier and healthier: The World Health Organization lists a sedentary lifestyle as one of 10 leading causes of death and disability. Studies show regular exercise can increase your lifespan by around three to five years, maybe more. Exercise also produces endorphins, which help relieve stress and increase feelings of happiness and satisfaction. The benefits of exercise for seniors also includes improved sleep, which is especially important for older adults who often have disrupted sleep patterns.
- Reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke: Data show that regular physical activity can help prevent disease. Exercise will raise your heart rate and get your blood flowing, boosting your cardiovascular function and overall health. Take a walk. Clean the house. Go for a swim. It all counts toward keeping your heart and vascular system healthy!
- Prevent falls: Falls are the leading cause of injury in adults age 65 years or older and can result in a drastic decrease in independence and reduced quality of life. Hip fractures caused by falls can be especially devastating in older adults. Benefits of exercise for seniors includes improved muscle tone, bone density and balance, factors the World Health Organization says can reduce the risk of hip fracture by 40%.
- Build bone density: Weight-bearing exercise like playing tennis, dancing, walking or jogging can help increase your bone strength and reduce your risk of developing osteoporosis and sustaining fractures. According to the National Osteoporosis Society, 50% of women and 20% of men will break a bone due to osteoporosis, so do your part in building stronger bones.
- Reduce your dementia risk: A sedentary lifestyle in your later years can increase your risk of developing dementia, according to a recent study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. The study analyzed more than 1,600 seniors and found that those who did not exercise were more likely to develop dementia than those who did. Regular physical activity preserves critical motor skills, which benefit cognitive function. Many studies show a correlation between physical activity and a lower risk of dementia, and it’s never too late to start!
- Prevent or delay other diseases: Regular physical activity can help prevent disease by helping you maintain a healthy weight, reducing your risk of diabetes. It can help preserve joint function in arthritis. It can help lower your cholesterol and blood pressure, reducing your risk for or impacts of heart disease. Exercise can also lower your risk of developing or dying from breast, colorectal and prostate cancer and improve quality of life for people who’ve had cancer.
Find the Right Routine
Exercise is beneficial, but it should also be fun – and safe. It’s a good idea to consult with your doctor before starting a new exercise routine. If you have a chronic condition, balance issues or an injury, you may need to modify or avoid certain activities. That being said, there are ways to stay in motion that suit everyone. So get your doctor’s OK and then find ways to be active that best reflect your interests and abilities.
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