Being active and getting some form of exercise on a regular basis is important for people of all ages, and it’s especially important for seniors. Seniors who do not exercise regularly are at a significantly greater risk of developing major health and mobility issues versus seniors who do prioritize working out. If you have an older loved one who you’d like to encourage to be more active, here are just some of the many advantages they’ll benefit from when they engage in regular exercise.
It Improves Their Mental Health
There are many studies that demonstrate how exercise improves peoples’ mental health. When someone exercises, their brain releases serotonin, which is a chemical that plays a key role in crucial body functions including sleep, mood, digestion, bone health, wound healing, and blood clotting. Regular physical activity is also proven to be beneficial for anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues.
It’s important to find a physical activity that matches your loved one’s abilities and mobility. Check your local gym for classes geared towards seniors, like gentle stretching, yoga for seniors, or perhaps a beginner-level dance class. If your loved one resides in an assisted living community, ask an activities director onsite about the different types of exercise classes they offer on a weekly basis. Another great way to get daily exercise is to get outside, breathe some fresh air, and just go for a walk. Going for a walk together doubles as a great way to spend quality time with your loved one.
Falls Can Be Reduced with Better Balance
Seniors are more prone to falling than any other age group. Even a seemingly minor fall can result in a serious injury, like a broken hip or a broken arm. Exercise is an excellent way for seniors to improve balance, mobility, and overall strength, which in turn reduces the likelihood that they’ll fall. This is especially crucial for older adults who live alone and don’t have a home health aide checking in on them daily.
Cognitive Function Is Enhanced
Cognitive function refers to various mental abilities including attention, remembering, problem solving, reasoning, and decision making. Many seniors notice a decline in their cognitive abilities as they age, and working out is one way to combat this decline. There are even studies showing that physical activity can lower a person’s risk of developing dementia. For seniors who value their independence, this is a critical point that shouldn’t be ignored.
Life Expectancy Can Be Increased
Many people say that retirement age is when life really begins, so it’s really the perfect time to prioritize your health by getting into a regular exercise routine! Various studies show that people who consistently exercise can add several years to their life, versus people who don’t do any physical activity. Remember, It’s never too late for you or a loved one to start, and being consistent is the key to success.
Ideas for Seniors to Stay Active
- Daily walks: Start small with a 30-minute walk every day. It’s a great opportunity to get some fresh air and explore local parks or walking trails.
- Yoga for seniors: Many gyms or senior living communities offer yoga classes tailored for older adults. Yoga is hugely beneficial for people of all ages – it helps with flexibility, mobility, balance, and overall strength.
- Dance classes: Dancing is a great way to stay active while having fun. Whether it’s Zumba, chair dancing, or another form of dance, there are many different classes for all levels and abilities.
- Beginner weight training: You might hear weight training and think of bodybuilders, but many seniors enjoy weight training several times a week. It helps retain muscle mass, which often decreases as we age.
This blog was originally published at https://umcommunities.org/umc-corp/blog/exercise-for-seniors/