Staying fit and active is critical to maintaining a healthy lifestyle for everyone. The benefits of exercise are widely publicized, and people may understand the need for fitness, but not grasp the full weight of it – especially for an aging adult. This article highlights the benefits of exercise for older adults, as well as the types of exercises and their importance to overall health. Though there are many things an individual can do to maintain overall wellness, we will focus here strictly on physical fitness and exercise.
The first thing is that people function at varying levels of physical competence, regardless of their age. A 90 year old woman might be perfectly capable of maintaining a regular swimming program but a 79 year old man might have trouble keeping up with a basic walking regimen. The more challenges a person has, the more important it is to be flexible on exercise routines, regardless of the individual’s actual age.
As we age our bones thin, joints tighten, and muscles atrophy. Without intervention, the human body will naturally break down as it gets older. We have the ability to minimize, if not turn back, physical decline through various forms of fitness and wellness practices.
3 Reasons Why Exercise For Older Adults Is Important
- Prevent or delay disease – the U.S. Surgeon General’s Report on Physical Activity and Health indicates that inactive people are twice as likely to develop heart disease as those who are more active. In addition to heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and arthritis improved or reduced through regular and sufficient exercise.
- Stress, mood, and outlook – regular exercise helps manage stress releasing hormones in the brain. We literally feel better when we move our bodies, which has a positive impact on our emotions and physical health.
- Exercise makes your brain healthy- Recent studies indicate that exercise may actually be more important to brain function than brain activities, such as puzzles or reading.
There are three types of exercise that help older adults stay healthy:
- Endurance activities, such as walking, bike riding, or swimming, improve heart and circulatory functions, as well as the muscles involved in the activity. If a person does nothing else, integrating a basic walking or stationary bike program will bring significant benefits to their overall health.
- Strengthening exercises, such as weights or exercise bands build muscle tissue and improves joint function, increasing the ability to maintain physical functioning.
- Flexibility and balance through stretching and yoga. This is critical to an aging population where the loss of muscle elasticity and equilibrium can increase the risk of falls and injury.
Maintaining a fit and active lifestyle for the entirety of a person’s life is not only a good idea, it is crucial to her or his quality of life. Though there may be some safety concerns, healthy and appropriate exercise plans are available for seniors at almost any physical fitness level.