The Benefits of Physical Activity for Seniors

We all know that exercise is “good” for you. As we age, movement becomes more vital when it comes to overall health and wellness. In general, continuous physical activity will help individuals maintain independence for a much longer time. Nobody garners the benefits of physical exercise more than aging adults. Every aspect of life improves with the right amount of activity, even if you start exercising later in life.

Here are some of the many ways that exercise helps us as we age.

Increases Energy Levels

A lot of people avoid exercise because they feel too tired. The truth is that exercise provides boosts of energy. The time of day you choose to get active should be consistent. People who start their day with exercise tend to have more energy throughout the day. Studies show that exercise not only increases power but helps to decrease fatigue. With regular practice, the human body teaches itself to increase energy.

Decreases Symptoms of Depression

There is no doubt about it. Exercise helps with depression, particularly with aging adults. Getting old can bring about more physical pains and memory loss. Dealing with these issues naturally increases depression. Exercise provides the release of endorphins (feel-good hormones), as well as confidence and more self-control. For many, exercise is a social activity. A simple daily walk with a friend or a caregiver is something to look forward to while improving overall mental health. All senior living facilities provide exercise programs for both independent and assisted living.

Maintains or Decreases Weight

This fact is a bit of a no-brainer. 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, allowing your body to burn more calories.

Reduces the Impact of Illness and Chronic Disease

Seniors who exercise tend to have improved immune and digestive functioning, lower blood pressure, higher bone density, and a lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, obesity, heart disease, osteoporosis, and certain cancers. Of course, exercise alone doesn’t guarantee good health, but aging adults can impact illness and improve the overall quality of life with a healthy diet and lifestyle.

Enhances Mobility, Flexibility, and Balance

Often, individuals slow down with their exercise and physical activity because they experience loss of balance and are afraid of falls. However, exercise improves your strength, flexibility, and posture, helping with your balance and coordination and reducing your risk of falls. The stronger your body, the less impact chronic conditions have on a body. Most of these conditions are not curable, but exercise will strengthen your body. The stronger the body, the less the negative impacts.

Whether living independently or in a senior assisted living environment, exercise is highly encouraged for aging adults. If you’re beginning to exercise, you should always check with your physician and make sure you have medical clearance. Understand your limitations and go slowly. Attend classes with experts who teach gentle strengthening. Attend fitness classes and reap the social benefits. Start a walking group and make it more fun by using a personal GPS tracker. It’s fun and inspiring to watch your progress. See if you can ever reach the recommended 10,000 steps per day – it’s a lot less than you might think.

Even if adults need assistance walking or moving, exercise is still very doable. There are safety measures to follow, and there should always be supervision. The point is, if you want to stay active, it’s possible. Put together a plan with a physician and caregiver and work it into a schedule. Discuss what types of exercise are safe and effective. Make sure you mix up strength and cardio with stretching and breathing exercises. Even reading a book can be modified to include physical activity.

Miami Jewish Health is located in, you guessed it, Miami. We encourage all of our residents, patients, and visitors to drink plenty of water and carry fluids with them if they are exercising outside. Look for signs of dehydration. Dehydration occurs faster with seniors, so drinking water is vital. It will also help flush out toxins and impurities.

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