The benefits of physical activity for people of all ages are touted time and again. Regular exercise is good for you, and you should aim to make them part of your routine. There are innumerable reasons why we tend to slow down and become more sedentary with age. There could be any of these reasons for following an inactive lifestyle like having health problems, weight or pain issues, worries about falling, or perhaps you think that exercising simply isn’t for you. But many studies revealed that as you grow older, an active lifestyle becomes more important than ever to your health.
Daily workouts in your workout clothes help you improve your physical health and mental health, both of which in turn will help you maintain your independence as you age. Health experts are of the view that regular exercise for the elderly offers great benefits, including extending lifespan. Despite its utmost importance, you will be surprised to know that only 25% of people between 65 and 73 exercise regularly. Exercise can ease symptoms of many chronic conditions including weakness, poor balance, can help boost your energy, maintain your independence, and manage symptoms of illness or pain as well as your weight. mind, mood, and memory. Below, we have outlined some benefits of exercise for seniors and aging adults.
Some well-known benefits of exercise for senior citizens:
According to a report of the World Health Organization, nearly 2 million deaths per year are attributed to physical inactivity, this is why a sedentary lifestyle is one of 10 leading causes of death and disability. For availing yourself of these advantages, you don’t have to be a fitness freak, even gentle, regular exercises such as walking or swimming can increase lifespan by around three to five years.
Decreased risk of falls:
As we age our joints start becoming stiff and our body starts experiencing muscle loss which is not good for maintaining our balance and we are at a higher risk of falls, which can prove to be potentially disastrous for maintaining independence. Regular exercise helps to keep our joints and muscles in good condition and that reduces the risk of falls. Additionally, if you are an older adult, you will take much longer to recover from falls, so anything that helps avoid them in the first place is extremely important. And WHO is of the view that regular exercise can reduce the risk of having a hip fracture by 40%.
Prevent or delay some chronic ailments:
Regular exercise is one of the best remedies to avoid cardiovascular problems, save yourself from some types of cancers, control diabetes, and manage blood pressure. For maintaining your heart health, daily exercise like brisk walking, cycling, or light housework that raise the heart rate, will increase blood flow to the heart and boost your heart health. Also, these physical activities help you maintain a healthy weight that could save you from some cancers. Additionally, it produces insulin that is very important to maintain your blood sugar level.
Strength and power training:
Strength training builds up muscle through repetitive motions. Senior citizens can do strength training using weight or external resistance from machines, free weights, elastic bands, nautilus machines, or by using walls, the floor, and furniture for resistance. Bodyweight exercises or calisthenics are also convenient options for strength training since they do not require any specialized equipment.
This training helps prevent the loss of muscle mass and bones that improve balance to avoid falls and broken bones. Power training is a kind of strength training done at a faster speed to increase power and reaction times. Power training can enhance your speed and make you able to react quickly if you start to trip or lose balance. Building strength and power will help older adults stay independent and make day-to-day activities such as opening a jar, getting in and out of a car, and lifting objects easier.
Like the decline in many other physical abilities, flexibility also decreases in the later part of life if you spend an inactive life. To overcome this problem there are flexibility workouts and stretching exercises that ameliorate the ability of your body’s joints to move freely through a full range of motion. It will not only improve the movement capabilities of older adults but save them from many injuries, reduce muscle soreness, and stiffness. Yoga is an excellent workout to enhance your flexibility. Moreover, activities like dynamic stretching and pilates focus on developing a strong core, a term which refers to the set of muscles connecting the inner stomach to the lower back and spine.
Boosted immune function:
Regular exercise makes you strong and healthy, and a healthy strong body fights off infection and disease more easily and more quickly. Regular physical activity improves the overall immune system, which is important for seniors as their immune systems are often compromised. Additionally, once a person has fallen to an ailment, rather than sapping energy reserves entirely, recovery from an illness will take less of a toll on the body if the person exercises regularly. Even light exercise, such as walking or jogging for a few minutes, can be a powerful tool for preventable disease management.
Better bone density:
People do lose some bone density as they age, post-menopausal women are particularly susceptible and can lose as much as 2 percent bone mass each year. This loss in bone mass can develop osteoporosis and cause fractures. Weight-bearing exercise such as walking or jogging can help increase the strength of bones, protects against bone loss, restores bones, contributes to better balance, and reduces the risk of osteoporosis. Better bone density will save you from falls, fractures, and broken bones. Research says that one in two women and one in five men will break a bone due to osteoporosis.
Reduced risk of developing dementia:
People who become sedentary in the later years of their lives are more likely to face problems like dementia. Having a good memory is very important for young as well as older adults to live an independent life. Regular physical activities, on the other hand, can help keep your brain active, and experts say that little comes close to the beneficial effects of exercise on the brain. A regular workout can aid brain functions like multitasking, and creativity, and help in preventing memory loss, cognitive decline, and dementia.
Improved cognitive function:
Like physical health benefits, there are innumerable mental health benefits that exercise has to offer. Older citizens are more likely to get stressed and depressed because usually they have very little opportunities for entertainment and they often get bored with their lives. Doing regular exercise produces endorphins, the “feel-good” hormones, which act as a stress reliever and leaves you feeling happy and satisfied. With exercise, you will be able to control all these mental challenges. Furthermore, with age cognitive functioning starts weakening and some sort of regular physical activity is required to enhance your cognition.
Improves how well you sleep:
Besides other mental and psychological benefits, regular activity can help you fall asleep faster, sleep more deeply, and wake feeling more energetic and refreshed. This is especially important for old citizens who often suffer from insomnia and disrupted sleep patterns. Quality sleep is vital for a happy and peaceful life.
More confidence and independence:
Daily workouts help aged citizens to improve their functional reach and balance and reduced participants’ fear of falling. Also, exercise produces endorphins that can actually help reduce feelings of sadness, depression, and anxiety. This enhanced mood and improved physical abilities not only help old people become independent but boost your self-confidence and self-esteem too.
When doing fitness activities in a group like joining a gym class, walking in a group, visiting a gardening club, exercise can be made into a fun social event. Maintaining good and strong social ties help senior citizens to have a company of like-minded people, feel a sense of purpose, and avoid feelings of loneliness or depression. The key to engaging yourself with the exercise and with a social group is to find a form of exercise you love, and it will never feel like a chore again.
What if you hate to exercise?
Most of us enjoy exercise, but if you are an old adult who dreads working out don’t worry, you’re not alone. Many people hate to exercise and even feel near to tear when they have to do it. Regular exercise is a major stumbling block for many of the older adults, so let’s take a look at some general strategies that hate exercise can employ, as well as new ways to think about and approach exercise. These are not any end all, be all answers, but they can be considered some good ideas:
Find a workout partner:
You need some motivators to generate interest in making yourself fit and then some motivation to keep that interest alive. Find a workout buddy and make a series of pacts with him. The first impact, if one person doesn’t show or backs out, the other person must also back out. Second, pledge to keep training until the other person stops. This will help because research suggests that if someone else’s workout depends on yours, you will be more likely to exercise, so as not to disappoint or let down the other person.
Find your jam:
Rather than forcing yourself to do something you don’t enjoy, find activities that you enjoy and ways to exercise that fit your personality. Although older citizens are mostly less interested in physical activities, yet there would be something that they enjoy too. If you’re an extrovert, do something that engages you socially, take a group dance class, join a recreational sports team, or start a walking group with friends.
The company of good peers will keep you motivated. But if you’re more of a lone wolf, running or swimming might be a better fit. If you’re not an early bird, you will not be able to get up at the crack of dawn to make a boot camp class. A convenient physical activity for you would be an evening walk or run.
Make your short workouts shorter and more intense:
If you want to keep yourself motivated, try to increase the intensity and reduce the volume of your workout. This is because acute bouts of ultra-intense training are more effective and, unsurprisingly, more neurally rewarding. Lifting more weight rather than more reps and running as fast as you can for a short period of time instead of running pretty fast for a long period of time are more effective to experience some quick results.
Motivate yourself with a reward system:
Normally, we have something that we love doing, like watching a movie, eating ice cream, taking a long bath, etc, try to motivate yourself with these rewards. If you achieve a certain goal of physical fitness, you will reward yourself with the most favorite thing. This will make you do even the toughest of exercises. Indulging yourself with a healthy reward every single time you work out will help you bring on the track and a time will come when you won’t need the reward anymore. Like a good dog after some training no longer needs a treat in order to sit, stay, or come, you’ll come to associate exercise with its own inherent reward, especially after seeing the results.
Try different modalities:
Doing monotonous physical activity for a long time will make you bored and you will start losing interest in your fitness routine. This is why you need more regimentation, direction, and structure for your exercise. You may also need more freedom, randomization, and boundlessness. Also, at times you may find it tedious to go to the gym daily and do the same physical activity. To avoid these kinds of situations your gym instructor must introduce variety in the physical activity you do to keep your interest and motivation alive for the workout. All these motivators are good enough even for bringing old souls to a fitness routine.