5 Benefits of Exercise for Aging Adults

5 Benefits of Exercise for Seniors and Aging Adults

You’ve heard it time and again: physical activity and exercise are good for you, and you should aim to make them part of your routine. There are countless studies that prove the important health benefits associated with exercise, and it becomes more important as we age. Regular physical activity and exercise for seniors helps improve mental and physical health, both of which will help you maintain your independence as you age. Below, we outline five benefits of exercise for seniors and aging adults.

1. Prevent Disease

Studies have shown that maintaining regular physical activity can help prevent many common diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes. Exercise improves overall immune function, which is important for seniors as their immune systems are often compromised. Even light exercise, such as walking, can be a powerful tool for preventable disease management.

 

2. Improved Mental Health

The mental health benefits of exercise are nearly endless. Exercise produces endorphins (the “feel good” hormone), which act as a stress reliever and leaves you feeling happy and satisfied. In addition, exercise has been linked to improving sleep, which is especially important for older adults who often suffer from insomnia and disrupted sleep patterns.  

 

3. Decreased Risks of Falls

Older adults are at a higher risk of falls, which can prove to be potentially disastrous for maintaining independence. Exercise improves strength and flexibility, which also help improve balance and coordination, reducing the risk of falls. Seniors take much longer to recover from falls, so anything that helps avoid them in the first place is critical.

Nearly 8 million adults of all ages in the United States report balance disorders each year. About 25% of older adults in the community report difficulty with balance or require the assistance of another person or special equipment to walk. The numbers increase significantly after age 75. All in all, almost 40% of older adults are affected by balance problems.

In adults over age 65, balance problems are linked to falls. One-third of adults in this age group and over half of people over the age of 75 years fall each year. Men and women are affected about equally.

 

4. Social Engagement

Whether you join a walking group, go to group fitness classes or visit a gardening club, exercise can be made into a fun social event. Maintaining strong social ties is important for aging adults to feel a sense of purpose and avoid feelings of loneliness or depression. Above all, the key is to find a form of exercise you love, and it will never feel like a chore again. I always say the best exercise is the one you enjoy and can do consistently. As an aging adult the benefits of exercise allow us to remain independent so that we can maintain and live out a fulfilling social life. 

 

5. Improved Cognitive Function

Regular physical activity and fine-tuned motor skills benefit cognitive function. Countless studies suggest a lower risk of dementia for physically active individuals, regardless of when you begin a routine.

In Conclusion

Exercise is good for you; it’s just a matter of making it a priority and habit in your daily life. In the aging population, exercise has been shown to prevent disease, lower the risk of falls, improve mental health and well-being, strengthen social ties, and improve cognitive function. Regardless of your age, we hope this will motivate you to incorporate exercise into your life.

Article adapted from:

“5 Benefits of Exercise for Seniors and Aging Adults: The Greenfields.” The GreenFields Continuing Care Community | Lancaster, NY, 28 Oct. 2020, https://thegreenfields.org/5-benefits-exercise-seniors-aging-adults/.

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