As we age, our lives tend to slow down and become sedentary, due to various factors such as health problems, weight or pain issues which afflict many a senior. While the challenges of old age may restrict our daily activities, that doesn’t mean you can’t make a change to improve yourself to overcome said challenges. It is in this aspect that an active lifestyle becomes more important than ever to your health.
Benefits of Exercise For Elders
Some of the many benefits of regular exercise for older people include:
- Muscle Mass – Several studies have shown that every decade after a person has reached middle age, the average body loses about 3kg (6.5 Ibs) of lean muscle, which in turn will affect strength and total muscle contraction. Regular exercise, even after exercising for a relatively short period of time, will increase muscle mass in the elderly.
- Strong Bones – Bone density begins to decline after the age of 40, but this loss is more apparent around the age of 50 years. As a result older people are more prone to bone fractures and diseases like osteoporosis. Weight-bearing exercise, in particular, can helps to keep bones healthy and strong.
- Improve Joint Movement – In addition to strong bones, the joints of the body require regular movement to remain supple and healthy. This is especially important in seniors who may suffer from joint problems and arthritis. Aerobic and strengthening exercise programs in this regard can improve joint movement for elders.
- Improved Heart and Lung Function – Studies show that cardiorespiratory fitness takes longer to achieve in an older person than a young person, but the physical benefits of improving their cardiorespiratory functions are nonetheless similar.
- Regulating Body Fat Level – As we grow older, we become more susceptible in gaining weight, which in turns risks us towards illnesses like including cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Regular exercise helps to burn kilojoules, increases muscle mass and speeds the metabolism. These physiological changes help an older person maintain an appropriate weight for their height and build.
- Improved Immune System – Exercise increases blood flow, help clear bacteria out of your airways, strengthen antibodies to help fight infection, reduces stress hormones, and inflammation, and allows the immune system to perform better, and also reduce the risk of respiratory illnesses. This is especially important as seniors tend to become immunocompromised as they get older.
- Improved Brain Function – Several studies have shown that regular moderate exercise improves way in which the brain functions. It has shown to improved cognition abilities by stimulating the brain’s ability to maintain an old network connection while making new ones, and can affect the growth of new brain cells, particularly in the hippocampus, which is responsible for memory. This in turn can reduce the risk for brain related diseases like dementia. Additionally, seniors with higher levels of physical fitness had more gray matter which contain a brain’s neuronal cell bodies, which is central to thought, muscle control, sensory perception and decision making.
There are several things to consider, of course before embarking in this effort. Start slowly and build yourself to a specific routine or activity, whether its targeted at strength, endurance, balance or flexibility. It’s important to check with a physician or doctor before attempting any of these exercises, to reduce risks of probable injury. Most of all, seek out activities you enjoy so you won’t view exercising as a chore in order to promote a sense of motivation and commitment, so that you’ll like what you’re doing for a better you!
Remember that it is never too late to get fit.