What are the benefits of exercise for older adults?
There are many reasons why we tend to slow down and become more sedentary with age. It may be due to health problems, weight or pain issues, or worries about falling. Or perhaps you think that exercising simply isn’t for you. But as you grow older, an active lifestyle becomes more important than ever to your health.
A recent Swedish study found that physical activity was the number one contributor to longevity, adding extra years to your life—even if you don’t start exercising until your senior years. But getting active is not just about adding years to your life, it’s about adding life to your years.
Getting moving can help boost your energy, maintain your independence, protect your heart, and manage symptoms of illness or pain as well as your weight. Regular exercise is also good for your mind, mood, and memory. It’s never too late to find simple, enjoyable ways to become more active, improve your mood and outlook, and reap all of the physical and mental health benefits of exercise.
Physical health benefits of exercise for seniors
As an older adult, exercise can help you to:
Maintain or lose weight. As your metabolism naturally slows with age, maintaining a healthy weight can become a challenge. Regular exercise helps increase your metabolism and build muscle mass, helping your body to burn more calories.
Reduce the impact of illness and chronic disease. People who exercise tend to have improved immune and digestive functioning, better blood pressure and bone density, and a lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, obesity, heart disease, osteoporosis, and certain cancers.
Enhance your mobility, flexibility, and balance. Exercise improves your strength, flexibility, and posture, which in turn can help with your balance and coordination, and reduce your risk of falls. Strength training can also help alleviate the symptoms of chronic conditions such as arthritis.
Mental health benefits
Exercise can also help you to:
Improve how well you sleep. Quality sleep is vital for your overall health as you get older. Regular activity can help you fall asleep faster, sleep more deeply, and wake feeling more energetic and refreshed.
Boost your mood and self-confidence. Exercise is a huge stress reliever and the endorphins produced can actually help reduce feelings of sadness, depression, and anxiety. Being active and feeling strong can also help you feel more self-confident.
Improve your brain function. Activities like Sudoku or crossword puzzles can help keep your brain active, but little comes close to the beneficial effects of exercise on the brain. It can aid brain functions as diverse as multitasking and creativity, and help to prevent memory loss, cognitive decline, and dementia. Getting active may even help slow the progression of brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease.