How Important is Exercise as You Age?
As we get older, taking care of our bodies becomes more and more critical. Eating a nutritious diet, regular doctor visits, and exercise all play an essential role in our overall health as aging adults. More people live sedentary lifestyles, especially in old age, which has proven to be detrimental to health. Making sure you get up and active in your senior years has many health benefits, and it’s never too late to start! Here are five reasons why exercise is important as you age.
Improved Cognitive Function
Regular exercise has been shown to reduce the effect of aging on the brain, fight depression, reduce stress, and possibly even slow the onset of brain disorders like Alzheimer’s. Keeping your mind sharp is incredibly important as you age, and exercising is a great way to maintain cognitive function and improve mental health.
If you’re worried about your insurance covering the services you need, you may speak with a licensed agent when choosing a Medicare plan as benefits and costs can vary with each plan.
Exercising frequently has tremendous benefits when it comes to preventing chronic diseases like Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes. Additionally, prolonged exercise benefits respiratory health, and the anti-inflammatory benefits of exercise are great for boosting immunity and fighting sickness.
Decreased Risk of Falls
Regular exercise is great for maintaining muscle strength and flexibility and improving balance, all of which can help decrease the risk of falls in old age. Preventing falls is crucial to maintaining independence as you age, and exercise is an excellent, free tool for keeping you on your feet, both literally and figuratively.
Bone density decreases in both men and women as we age, with post-menopausal women losing as much as 2% per year. Bones adapt to the stress put on them, and exercise is a great way to apply healthy amounts of stress to your bones. Strong bones help to reduce fractures and lead to greater independence as you age.
People who live sedentary lifestyles have more trouble falling asleep, which can disrupt their health. Daily activity helps to promote deeper sleep. Deep sleep is when your body and mind recover the most, and getting deep sleep every night helps you feel more rested. Just 30 minutes of daily exercise can help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.
What Exercises are Good for Seniors?
While it is always a good idea to check with your doctor before beginning a new physical activity, here are some exercises that are beneficial for aging adults:
- Strength Training- Light weights or resistance bands are a great way to develop muscle strength. Most gyms and fitness centers have resistance bands available, and there are plenty of YouTube videos centered around resistance workouts for seniors.
- Aerobics- Walking, swimming, hiking, and stationary bikes promote cardiovascular health and lung function. According to the CDC, many experts recommend aerobic exercise for aging adults for 30 minutes a day, five days a week.
- Pilates- Pilates is a program for aerobic exercise and strengthening the core while being gentle on your joints. Pilates is a great exercise to try if you haven’t worked out in a long time.
- Yoga- There are many yoga classes curated for older adults. Like Pilates, yoga is low-impact, easy on your joints, and beneficial for breath control and balance. Yoga is also great for practicing flexibility and balance, which can help reduce the risk of falls in old age.
No matter your age, it is never too late to start getting active. It may be uncomfortable at first, but the benefits of exercise become increasingly important as you age, despite your previous activity level. Most importantly, starting slow is better than not starting at all.