Exercise and staying active is recommended for everyone of all ages, including older adults, to stay both mentally and physically fit. Unfortunately less than half of adults over the age of 75 are physically active while the number is even lower for adults aged 65 to 74 according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Living an active lifestyle and participating in exercises will increase body and brain health.
There are a long list of benefits that come from regular exercise including weight control, reduction of heart disease, managing blood sugar and insulin levels, strengthening of muscles, improvement of mental health, not to mention it increases your chances of living longer. There is also evidence that shows that exercise can reduce your risk of some cancers like lung and colon.
Benefits of Exercise
The National Institute on Aging says that there are four main types of exercise that provide different benefits and that all are recommended.
Endurance-based exercises, or aerobics, will help increase your breathing and heart rate. These exercises will help keep your lungs, heart and circulatory system healthy and improve overall health. Walking, jogging, dancing and swimming are all examples of endurance exercises.
Strength exercises help make muscles stronger. Strength exercises will help you carry out everyday activities such as climbing stairs. Lifting weights, resistance-based training and bodyweight exercises are examples of this.
Balance is important, especially for older adults who can be seriously hurt from a fall. Leg raises and toe lifts are two examples of balance exercises while an exercise program like Tai Chi can also help.
Exercises for flexibility will help stretch your muscles and help your body stay limber. Flexibility will allow you to participate in more exercises and perform everyday activities like driving or getting dressed. Flexibility exercises include general stretching of body parts and participating in things like yoga.
Strength exercises specifically can protect against bone loss and reduce the risk of osteoporosis which lowers the risk of falls and broken bones. This is important because men and women lose bone mass as they age, making them more fragile.
A study from the NIA even linked exercise intensity to increases in metabolism across brain reasons, something that could have an effect on things like Alzheimer's since decreases in brain metabolism is a known characteristic of the disease.
“How long one engaged in moderate physical activity impacted the amount of brain glucose metabolism. The more time spent performing moderate level of physical activity (average 43.3 min/day to average 68.1 min/day), the greater the increase in brain glucose metabolism,” the study said.
If you or a loved one has been living a sedentary lifestyle for too long, small steps can help to become more active and live a healthier lifestyle.
Many of us already know how beneficial exercise can be but may be nervous about getting started or maybe don’t know where exactly to start.
One simple thing you can do to get started is just going for a walk during the day. Grab a friend and walk around the neighborhood or local park. Walking is one easy thing you can do to boost mental health, reduce pain in muscles, lower blood sugar, and improve heart health. Making walking a priority and incorporating it into your daily routine and getting accustomed to it is one way to ensure you get your daily exercise in. If you can’t walk for long at first, just start with small 10 minute walks and build your way up to something longer and farther. Be sure to walk on a surface that is smooth to put less strain on your joint and reduce aches. Don’t forget to dress appropriately for the weather. Finding the proper shoes that will support your arches will help your knees, shins, and hips not be as sore during the walks. Also, make sure to stay hydrated during your walks.
It may be beneficial to some people who are not used to exercising to seek the help of a personal trainer to help them get started. One of the best ways to go about doing this is getting referral from a friend or professional. Checking with a local health club or senior center is another approach you could take.
The NIA also provides a list of recommended practices for each of the four types of exercises they mention.
Physicians recommend about 30 minutes of endurance exercise each day for senior to help improve heart rate and breathing. If this is too difficult or strenuous, it is acceptable to do three 10-minute periods spread out over time to achieve the same goal.
For strength training, seniors can lift weights and resistance bands but can also use walls and other stationary objects to participate in resistance exercises like sit-ups or wall push-ups. It is
recommended exercising all muscle groups and doing one or two sets with 10 to 15 repetitions.
Participating in balancing exercises can be done almost anytime, anywhere and as often as you like. Balance is incredibly important for everyday life and by practicing it every so often it can make life a lot easier.
Similar to balance exercises, they can be done at almost anytime and don’t require much equipment. Doing a stretching exercises like a calf stretch against a wall or an upper body exercise against a wall can helpful for overall health. It is recommended doing each stretch three to five times and holding for 10 to 30 seconds while remembering to breathe and relax.
The National Institute of Aging offers a number of exercise videos to look through and try out on your own.
Exercise is incredibly important if you or a loved one wishes to stay healthy as they continue their journey through life.There’s nothing more important than keeping your loved one safe and happy while preserving their health and wellness. If you’re ready, have the conversation with your loved one about how senior living can drastically improve and enrich their lives.