Exercise is always one of the key elements for a healthy lifestyle. That doesn’t change as you grow older. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, almost all older people can benefit from increased physical activity. Seniors who stay active benefit in a number of ways from improving memory to strengthening social relationships, or even preventing depression. This report from the Surgeon General talks in detail about this.
Exercise Improves Mood
Exercising releases mood-boosting endorphins which helps you feel better and can lessen feelings of depression. So if you are experiencing depression or mood swings, exercise may help re-direct negative thoughts and provide support.
If you’ve ever experienced a “runner’s high,” you’ve experienced how being active can impact your mood and disposition.
Exercise is a Social Activity
Humans are social beings and for many older adults, exercise becomes a social event. A group that walks together regularly gets to chat about the latest news and gossip. A water aerobics class gives the chance to connect with other seniors. Being active in a group provides accountability and helps you stay motivated and engaged. This results in improved health both physically and socially.
Exercise Increases Mental Capacity
Being physically active has been linked to slowing mental decline. An active body receives more blood flow, every part of it, including your brain. More blood flow encourages more cell growth which leads to better mental health and improved cognitive functioning.
Exercise Improves Healing
The older we are, the longer it can take us to heal. Exercise helps with that. Active adults may see wounds that heal as much as 25 percent faster than those who do not exercise. Beginning an exercise program or being active prior to an injury or surgical procedure allows you to benefit from improved healing and a faster recovery.
Exercise Improves Strength and Mobility
Keeping your body strong is one of the most important tasks for an older adult. It comes as no surprise that exercise is the best way to improve both strength and mobility. Seniors who sit around and aren’t active can suffer with difficulty breathing, poor blood flow, atrophied muscles, unsteady balance and more. Even a short walk a few times each day has benefits.
What exercises can seniors do?
- Aerobic and Endurance Exercises
- Walking, stationary cycling and swimming
- Strength and Resistance Training
- Utilize weights, resistance bands, and Nautilus machines
- Bodyweight exercises (lunges, sit-ups, leg raises, etc.)
- Stretching and Flexibility Exercises
- Yoga, Pilates
- Helps muscles warm up and cool down gradually, improves and maintains flexibility, prevents injury, and reduces muscle soreness and stiffness.
For those who are more limited in what they can do, consult with your doctor and exercise in an organized and controlled setting. Swimming, yoga and water aerobics are excellent low-impact options that are less jarring to the body.