There are a broad range of benefits to be had from exercise. Regular exercise has been shown to protect against disease, improve mood and lower chances of injury. But is it safe for people 65 and older to exercise? Definitely. As we age the body does take longer to recover from physical activity, but it’s good for seniors of all fitness levels to exercise. Even those who suffer from chronic illness can find safe ways to exercise. In fact, many health conditions can improve from physical activity including:
· Alzheimer’s Disease
· Heart Disease
· High Blood Pressure
· Lipid Profile
· Memory Loss
· Certain types of cancer
Below is a list of all the wonderful benefits that regular exercise offers to the elderly.
Immune Function – Being fit can make your body healthy and strong. This helps you to fight infections and recover much faster. Instead of losing all your energy when you get a cold, recovery should be much easier.
Cardiovascular Health – Regular exercise has been proven to lower your risk of high blood pressure and heart disease. If you have high blood pressure, exercising will lower it.
Bone Density – Exercise helps build up your bones and fight loss of bone mass. Having adequate bone density reduces the risk of osteoporosis and injuries from falling. Strength training can drastically reduce your loss of bone mass, help strengthen bones and improve balance.
Cancer and Chronic Conditions – You can lower the risk of developing chronic conditions like Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes and dementia with exercise. It also helps aid the management of cholesterol levels and arthritis pain.
Regular exercise is also related to life expectancy and age related decline in seniors. Additionally, a study by the American Geriatrics Society indicated that exercise training improved range of motion, balance and fear of falling in those who participated.
Often times, elderly people aren’t able to perform aerobic exercises regularly due to low endurance. While aging does affect the cardiovascular system significantly, it is believed that a decrease in muscle mass accounts for at least half of endurance loss. Strength training, aerobic exercise, stretching and balance exercises are all part of complete physical fitness.
30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise a day is recommended by most physicians for seniors. Walking, swimming and rowing are some of the most common cardio exercises. They work the heart muscle and build up endurance. If an you get tired quickly, it’s okay to break that 30 minutes up any way you wish. Do 3 periods of 10 minutes exercises, or 6 periods of 5 minutes if you need to.
Cardio endurance increases the flow of oxygen and nutrients to the body. Exercising consistently each day for a few weeks typically improves endurance and makes a person less likely to become tired performing day to day tasks.
Strength training is one of the best ways to prevent bone density loss and broken bones from falls. Strength training utilizes repetitive motions to help build and strengthen muscles. Elderly people can use free weights, resistance bands or things like chairs and walls for resistance. Strength training 2 to 3 days a week offers the biggest benefits. Exercise muscle groups by doing 1 or 2 sets of 10-15 repetitions of a particular exercise. As time goes on you can increase your reps or increase the resistance.
Flexibility is important for all types of exercise. Adequate stretching helps your muscles warm up and cool down properly. This can reduce injuries, improve range of motion, and help you recover from your workouts faster.
Stretching is also a great form of meditation because it takes focus, patience and discipline. Things like Yoga or Thai Chi are a good way to stretch and build strength at the same time. These types of exercises isolate the muscles.
Because your core is responsible for supporting all your movement and strength, having a solid core can improve posture and reduce pain all over the body. A number of exercise programs like Pilates are focused on building core strength. This refers to the muscles in your lower back and abdomen.
While many seniors are active and able to exercise regular, there are others who cannot. Some people have limited physical abilities due to medical conditions or frailty. These seniors need to be more careful about how they exercise, but this doesn’t mean they don’t have any options. With the right guidance and professional advice, they can perform safe activities help increase their fitness level and become healthier.
Your health care provider will work with you to determine which type of exercise program is best for you. Total Home Health can connect you with experienced health care experts who are ready to help you live a long, healthy and fulfilling life. Join today to learn jumpstart a longer, healthier life.