As part of Navion’s Operation Celebrate and Elevate, we’re debunking myths associated with aging. This month, we’re tackling the topic of exercising as a senior.
As we age, it’s common to experience a decline in stamina and agility. Many people believe that exercising in your senior years won’t provide any real benefit, but the reality is that regular physical activity can have a profound impact on your overall health and well-being – even in your golden years. In this post, we’ll debunk the myth and explore the real benefits of exercising in your senior years.
The Advantages of Exercising
Exercise has numerous benefits for older adults, both physically and mentally. It can help improve your physical health, prevent chronic diseases, enhance your mood, and boost your immunity. Let’s take a closer look at these benefits:
1. Improves Physical Health
Regular exercise is essential for maintaining good physical health, regardless of your age. For seniors, staying active can help prevent bone loss, relieve osteoarthritis pain, and reduce the risk of chronic diseases. By engaging in strength training exercises, you can improve bone density and reduce the risk of fractures. Additionally, exercise can help ease the pain and stiffness associated with arthritis by strengthening the muscles around the joints. It can also provide protection against cardiovascular disease, colon cancer, diabetes, obesity, and hypertension.
2. Enhances Mood and Mental Well-being
Exercise can help alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression, increase relaxation, and promote a sense of overall well-being. Engaging in regular physical activity releases endorphins, which are natural mood boosters. A study conducted on adult men aged 65 and older found that the mood-boosting benefits of exercise continue well into old age.
3. Boosts Immunity
Maintaining a strong immune system becomes increasingly important as we age. Exercise has been linked to a lower incidence of acute respiratory illnesses and fewer sick days off work. While the exact mechanisms are not fully understood, it is believed that exercise has anti-inflammatory effects, which can improve immune function. By keeping your immune system strong, you can better protect yourself against infections and illnesses, allowing you to enjoy your senior years to the fullest.
Best Exercises for Senior Living
Now that we’ve established the benefits of exercise for senior living, let’s explore some of the best exercises for older adults. It’s important to engage in a variety of activities that incorporate aerobics, strength training, and flexibility. Here are some great workout options for seniors:
Yoga is a low-impact activity that can help seniors improve their strength, stability, flexibility, and balance. It is gentle on the joints and can be adapted to suit different fitness levels. Many senior living classes offer introductory yoga classes that cater specifically to the needs of older adults. These classes often include seated and standing options, making it accessible to everyone.
Pilates is another low-impact exercise that focuses on building a strong core to improve balance and stability. It has been shown to reduce the symptoms of arthritis, multiple sclerosis (MS), and Parkinson’s disease. Many Pilates exercises can be performed in sitting or reclining positions, making it a suitable option for seniors who may have mobility challenges or haven’t exercised in a while.
3. Aerobic Exercise
Aerobic exercise is crucial for maintaining cardiovascular health and overall stamina. Walking, swimming, and using a stationary bike are all excellent choices for older adults. Aim for at least 30 minutes of aerobic activity each day, which can be divided into shorter sessions if needed. Regular aerobic exercise will help strengthen your heart, improve lung function, and increase your overall endurance.
4. Strength Training for Muscle Maintenance
Strength training is essential for preserving muscle mass and preventing muscle loss as you age. Simple bodyweight exercises can be done at home without the need for expensive equipment. Wall pushups, stair climbing, squats, and single-leg stands are all effective strength training exercises for seniors. Additionally, incorporating light hand weights or resistance bands can further enhance the benefits of your workouts.
Exercising Safely in Your Senior Years
Before starting any exercise regimen, it’s important to consult with your doctor, especially if you have any chronic conditions or mobility issues. Your doctor can provide guidance on which exercises are safe and suitable for your specific health needs. They can also help you create an exercise plan tailored to your abilities and goals.
Regular exercise offers numerous advantages for older adults, including improved physical health, enhanced mood, boosted immunity, and a greater sense of well-being. By engaging in a variety of exercises that incorporate aerobic activity, strength training, and flexibility exercises, you can maintain your independence, improve your quality of life, and enjoy your senior years to the fullest.