Silver Comet Village values exercise and knows the importance that it has on an individual’s mental and physical health. It is because of this that we want to educate residents and their families on the importance of staying active.
We have gathered information on six benefits of senior exercise to help promote a healthy lifestyle. Every individual has unique health conditions and needs, so be sure to speak with a physician before implementing any exercise plan into your routine to determine the best exercise for your health.
1. Weight Loss
One of the most common benefits of regular exercise is maintaining a healthy body weight. Adults that exercise burn more calories than adults who do not; physical activity causes the body to use fat reserves that provide energy for the body. When fat reserves are used, the body naturally loses weight.
Because metabolism slows down with age, it can be challenging to maintain a healthy weight as you grow older. Through exercise and physical activity, however, it is possible to improve metabolism, which plays a significant role in the number of calories that your body burns on a regular basis. If you have a slow metabolism, exercise could improve it and help you to lose unhealthy weight.
It is recommended for older adults to exercise for at least 20 minutes per day actively. Exercising in short intervals can help reduce fatigue and can help to keep your heart rate elevated.
2. Mood Improvement
Exercising has also been shown to have a positive effect on mood. People have used exercise to reduce stress and anxiety for many years, and it is known for being an excellent solution for improving mood.
When someone exercises, his or her body creates serotonin, which is known to regulate mood and appetite. When additional serotonin is produced in the body, it can improve mood and reduce feelings of anxiety. In addition, exercise can also improve focus, promote better sleep, and reduce the production of chemicals that can worsen feelings of depression.
Sleep is an important contributor to overall health and even mood. When your body is rested, you feel more refreshed and happier. Exercise and physical activity help to improve sleep due to “the fluctuations of body temperature during and post-workout” to help you fall asleep faster and sleep more deeply, thus allowing you to wake up feeling energized and ready for the day ahead!
“This aspect of exercise benefits [older adults] because, as we age, body systems tend to slow down. Sleeping well can help keep cognitive and physical functioning (such as concentration, standard movements, and memory) at optimal levels throughout the day, resulting in a reduced risk of injury (Aaptiv.com).”
3. Reduce Health Risks
Certain health risks may be unavoidable, but many can be prevented by performing exercise frequently. When you exercise, it helps to strengthen muscles, improve balance, and build a stronger immune system. With stronger muscles and improved balance, you can prevent injuries, such as dangerous falls, that you would be of more risk to if activity and exercise were avoided.
Furthermore, many diseases and severe health conditions can be avoided by living a life of activity. Heart disease is a prevalent condition that many struggle with. According to health.com, “a study of more than 44,000 men found that even moderate exercise can shield against heart disease. Compared with men who got little or no exercise, those who walked briskly for at least 30 minutes each day were about 20% less likely to develop heart disease.” Exercise has also been shown to aid in preventing other health conditions like diabetes and certain types of cancer.
Bone health and density can also be improved with regular physical activity and exercise. “Weight-bearing exercise such as walking or jogging can help increase the strength of bones and reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis and fractures.”
As we grow older, it is common to experience slower healing times when recovering from an injury or wound; however, with exercise and physical activity, our bodies can speed up the healing and recovering process. When the body is healthy and strong, it is more able to fight off infections and can more easily recover from injury or illness.
Dr. Dennis Orgill, a surgeon and medical director of the Wound Care Center at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital, states, “when a person can walk, it gets pressure off the wound and stimulates the body to heal.” In fact, older adults who participate in regular physical activity may decrease the time it takes a wound to heal by up to 25%.
4. Improve Cognitive Function
Cognitive function is the way your brain works, and it has been shown that keeping your mind active is the best way to prevent cognitive decline. There are many ways to keep your brain active, but exercise and physical activity provide the most benefits in keeping your cognitive function high. According to HelpGuide, exercise “can help brain functions as diverse as multitasking and creativity and can help prevent memory loss, cognitive decline, and dementia. Getting active may even help slow the progression of brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease.”
5. Increased Range of Motion and Mobility
Mobility and range of motion are two things that we may not realize we are losing until significant damage has been done. When a part of the body can no longer perform as it should, your body may compensate for the lack of mobility by overworking another area of the body. This can go unnoticed because we are still able to perform everyday tasks. The problem with your body compensating and overworking a specific part of your body is that this could lead to strain and other complications.
The best way to prevent this from happening is to maintain range of motion and mobility through the use of these muscles and joints. Exercise is the best way to achieve this. Jimmy McKay, a physical therapist, says, “there are four phases of degeneration that progress naturally as we age. Exercise is a major intervention to slow this process down. If a joint cannot move through its normal range, it will limit the amount of activity that can be done.”
The old rule, “if you do not use it, you will lose it” holds true when it comes to range of motion and mobility. Because physical activity and exercise move your joints and strengthen your muscles, range of motion and movement may be preserved and even improved.
6. More Independence and Confidence
A common worry among older adults is losing their independence, but regular exercise and physical activity can lessen this fear. “A study by the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society examined exercise in [older adults] and found that training led to improvements in functional reach and balance and reduced participants’ fear of falling.”
According to Denise Taylor, “Findings from a systematic review indicated that when older adults participated in exercise of sufficient intensity and frequency, the reduction in risk of functional limitation and disability was in the range of 30-50%.” Furthermore, “aerobic training alone or aerobic training combined with resistance training have been shown to result in improved physical function in older adults without disabilities. In some groups of people with chronic health conditions, there are indications of positive effects of increased physical activity and exercise.”
When an individual participates in regular physical activity, he or she is more in tune with his or her own body and its limitations. By knowing these limitations, a person can have confidence when completing everyday tasks and activities independently.
While exercise may not be the solution to every health concern, it does provide a solution to many health problems that older adults are more at risk of dealing with. Do not get discouraged if you do not see results immediately as the benefits of senior exercise are best seen in the long-term. Be consistent and maintain a healthy exercise schedule to help support a healthy life.
At Silver Comet Village, we work hard to encourage older individuals to exercise and participate in physical activity regularly. Our activities and programs are designed to include individuals with a variety of interests and skill levels and promote a healthy lifestyle.
Updated on: June 1, 2020
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