Healthy aging includes exercise.
As an older adult, regular physical activity is one of the most important things you can do for your health. It can prevent many of the health problems that seem to come with age. It also helps your muscles grow stronger so you can keep doing your day-to-day activities without becoming dependent on others.
Not doing any physical activity can be bad for you, no matter your age or health condition. Keep in mind, some physical activity is better than none at all. Your health benefits will also increase with the more physical activity that you do.
Physical activity is essential for healthy aging
- Cardiovascular-respiratory health: The heart, a muscular organ, is the most vital part of the human body. The lungs, which provides oxygen to the heart, is extremely important as well. As we age, the efficiency of the heart and lungs decreases; however, regular cardiovascular exercise slows the effects of aging. Aim for accumulating 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week such as walking, biking or swimming. Exercise at an intensity to break a sweat, but at a pace where you can still hold a conversation with a friend. I could sit here for hours and list all the ways that cardiovascular exercise improves the function of the heart, lungs and related components , but to cut to the chase…it is essential to do — almost as essential as breathing!
- Psychological/Emotional well-being: Both aerobic training and resistance training yield significant improvements for depression and anxiety. Both also increase in quality of life including perceptions of body pain, vitality, social functioning, morale and sleep quality.
- Free Insurance: Think of exercise as additional health insurance. If you need unexpected surgery, joint replacements or experience an accident, the more fit you are prior to injury or surgery the quicker you’ll be on the road to recovery.
- Cognitive benefits: Studies show, a combination of aerobic training and resistance training decreases the risk of cognitive decline and dementia.
- Weight management: As we age, our metabolism with naturally slow. Therefore, without mindful eating and regular exercise, it becomes very easy for the pounds to creep upwards. Exercise is a natural way to burn calories and preserve muscle mass. The less weight our skeletal system carries, the happier our joints.
- Fall prevention: More than 95% of hip fractures are caused by falling. Hip fractures can lead to a lengthy list of undesirable conditions and a severe decrease in quality of life and independence. Keeping bones strong through weight bearing exercise and resistance training, maintaining agility, reaction time, joint mobility, kinesthetic awareness and balance are all important factors in preventing a fall from occurring. Luckily, these areas can be improved because exercise does prevent falls in older adults.
- Chronic disease and disability prevention: A regular exercise program, 150 minutes per week, will minimize the physiological changes due to aging and a sedentary lifestyle. Physical activity and exercise for older adults will increase the active life expectancy while limiting the development and progression of chronic disease and disabilties including certain types of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, arthritis, depression, and many others.
Any movement is better than NO movement! Exercise guidelines for older adults emphasize that for most health outcomes, additional benefits occur as the amount of physical activity increases through higher intensity, greater frequency, and/or longer duration.
The guidelines stress that if older adults cannot do 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week because of chronic conditions, they should be as physically active as their abilities and conditions allow. It all starts with a single movement!
Start today, by trying one of our SilverSneakers classes.