Exercise as a form of recreation is common in younger adults, but as people age, the desire and the ability to exercise diminishes. It’s normal to not have the stamina we once enjoyed when younger–but getting older doesn’t have to mean you become a couch potato.
In fact, studies have shown that with a regular, moderate exercise routine, you can reduce the risk of many medical conditions such as obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease. You can even improve your mental and emotional wellbeing simply by staying active. But what does exercise look like for older adults?
Benefits of an exercise routine for seniors
When people think of exercise, images of a gym full of treadmills, weight machines, and mirrors come to mind, but in reality, exercise for seniors can mean walking indoors or outside, chair exercises, and just generally getting up and being active. Regular activity and exercise not only boosts energy, it can provide other emotional benefits that improve self-confidence and enable older adults to embrace aging with grace. In fact, if you are considering moving to independent living or assisted living, one of the many amenities and benefits of these communities is the wellness programs offered that include exercise geared toward seniors.
Improved mental health and cognition – Cognition is defined as the ability to think, learn, and remember. As we age, cognition declines, but studies have proven a link between ongoing physical activity and benefits for the brain. Aerobic exercise, such as walking or using a stationary bike, is thought to be more beneficial to cognitive health than any other form of exercise. Additionally, regular forms of exercise reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, fostering improvements in mood and general wellbeing.
Reduced risk of certain diseases – As an older adult, regular exercise can delay or even prevent many of the health problems that set in with age. Arthritis, stroke, diabetes, and heart disease are major health concerns of seniors that studies have shown you can lower the risk of by simply exercising regularly and eating a healthy diet. Additionally, stretching–when coupled with exercise–helps improve flexibility, increased circulation, and blood flow, all of which provide a greater quality of life for seniors.
Boosted immune system – The human immune system becomes less responsive at responding to new illnesses as we age, but the good news is that exercise helps improve the efficiency of the immune system. In 2018, a study by a leading research group linked regular exercise with a lower incidence of respiratory illness as scientists believe immune response is boosted by exercise.
Exercising regularly to improve quality of life – With all the added benefits of regular exercise for seniors, one of the biggest obstacles is just getting up and moving around. Whether you live in an apartment or a home, there are many aerobic activities that you can safely do on your own to become active and set yourself on a path toward better overall health and wellbeing.
If you’re considering making the move to a senior living community, there are life enrichment programs that offer daily exercise routines and wellness offerings that help seniors stay active and promote a fulfilling lifestyle. Choosing a regular exercise routine that affords consistent physical activity will help reduce your risk of chronic health problems and improve your quality of life for years to come.