Physical activity is critical for individuals of all ages, but within older people, it can improve their quality of life and overall health. As we grow older, concerns about falls and our physical function increase, but exercise can help combat some of these issues when we incorporate physical activity into our routine regularly.
Protection Against Diseases
While our overall health and wellbeing can certainly benefit from physical exercise, research also suggests that it can reduce the chance of some diseases. These include cardiovascular disease, diabetes, strokes, and certain types of cancer. Another key benefit of exercise is its improvements to our mental health, and it can help to delay dementia and improve your overall wellbeing. With many older people living alone, it can be a great tool for retaining a positive outlook on life and combating loneliness. However, about 20% of adults today aren’t getting enough physical activity each week. It’s recommended that you try and incorporate about 150 minutes per week of physical activity into your routine, which can easily be broken down into five smaller sessions of 30 minutes.
Reducing the Risk of Falls
As we age, we often become more unsteady on our feet. However, one of the most common reasons for this occurring is that we don’t challenge our balance, strength, and agility enough through physical activity. For individuals looking to maintain their independence for many years to come, falls are something that should be avoided. Exercise will improve both your flexibility and strength and can also increase your coordination and reactions. As it can take seniors a longer time to recover from falls, it’s important you try to avoid them in the first place by maintaining an active lifestyle.
Improve Your Overall Wellbeing
While the physical health benefits of exercise are commonly discussed, you’ll also find exercise is a great mood booster. When you exercise, your body produces endorphins, which are the “feel good” hormone. If you are undergoing a period of stress or change in your life, these can help you to feel happier and more content with your life. Also, many older people struggle with their sleep patterns, and exercise is known to improve sleep. By adding more movement into your daily routine and also spending time outdoors, you’ll find you may enjoy less disrupted sleep patterns.
Social Benefits of Exercise
Exercise is a great way for individuals of all ages to meet new people with similar interests. This is particularly true for seniors who live alone. Consider joining a local walking group or fitness class, where you’ll also enjoy the social aspect of taking part in physical activity. Interacting with other people can help you to combat depression and loneliness, and you’ll also feel more purpose in your daily routine. For many individuals who retire from work, they often find themselves lost without a daily routine. Adding exercise into your schedule can help to give you that sense of purpose once again and give you something to look forward to each week.
Types of Exercise to Consider
When it comes to choosing a form of exercise, we encourage you to enjoy a combination of aerobic and strengthening exercise. Aerobic exercise doesn’t mean you have to go for a run or take a spinning class, and instead can be achieved by aiming to walk 10,000 steps in a day. Try to aim for about 150 minutes of aerobic activity a week, which you can build up to slowly from your current activity level. Try to find activities that will also strengthen your muscles and work on your flexibility during a couple of these sessions.
One of the biggest issues within the senior population is spending too much time sitting down each day. If you find you are sitting in a chair for most of the day, make sure you are getting up each hour or so to move around your home or stretch a little. While some individuals may find it hard to walk, it’s important to keep moving to the best of your ability to avoid your muscles seizing up and your body becoming more inactive.
Physical activity is something we should all be adding to our weekly routine, regardless of our age. For older people, there are many benefits of adding exercise into your life, and it can help to prevent disease and falls in the future. As well as the physical benefits of exercise, many individuals find the mental health and social benefits to be what motivates them to keep on exercising each week and for many years to come.