Exercise for the Elderly:
Top 10 Benefits
Regular physical activity is very advantageous for elderly adults. Moderate daily exercise helps achieve significant health benefits which are reaped even if the physical activity is not strenuous. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a moderate amount of activity can be obtained in longer sessions of moderately intense activities (such as walking) or in shorter sessions of more vigorous activities (such as fast walking or stair walking). Additional health benefits can be gained through greater amounts of physical activity, either by increasing the duration, intensity, or frequency. Because risk of injury increases at high levels of physical activity, care should be taken not to engage in excessive amounts of activity.
Previously sedentary older adults who begin physical activity programs should start with short intervals of moderate physical activity (5-10 minutes) and gradually build up to the desired amount. Older adults should consult with a physician before beginning a new physical activity program.
Why is exercise for the Elderly so important? The reduction of physical activity actually partly responsible for the loss of strength and stamina attributed to aging. Sedentariness increases with age, so around the age of 75 about one in three men and one in two women engage in no physical activity. Among adults aged 65 years and older, walking and gardening or yard work are, by far, the most popular physical activities. Social support from family and friends has been consistently and positively related to regular physical activity.
Exercise is recommended but what are the top ten health benefits of exercise for the elderly?
- It improves the quality of life. Maintaining the ability to live independently and reduces the risk of falling and fracturing bones by improving the ability to perform the routine tasks of daily life.
- Exercising can help lower systolic blood pressure significantly through moderate-intensity physical activity. Reduces the risk of dying from coronary heart disease and of developing high blood pressure, colon cancer, and diabetes.
- Exercise helps people with chronic, disabling conditions improve their stamina and muscle strength and it helps maintain healthy bones, muscles, and joints by controlling joint swelling and pain associated with arthritis.
- It can actually reduce the risk of dementia, a disabling condition affecting many older adults. With a wide range of mental disorders categorized as dementia, there is a great need to understand how to prevent the condition. Exercise is one prevention strategy that can help slow the mental decline. A recent study showed a 37 percent reduced risk and a 66 percent reduction in risk of dementia when older adults performed moderate-intensity exercise, suggesting every adult ought to exercise to help lower the risk of mental decline and to help prevent mental disability later in life.
- Reduces symptoms of anxiety and depression and fosters improvements in mood and feelings of well-being. Exercise can have a beneficial effect on personal mood. Studies suggest that group exercise classes among older adults can help reduce symptoms of depression by 30 percent or more in exercising older adults. The modest improvement in depressive symptoms can help maintain an overall greater vitality later in life and help prevent negative feelings or thoughts that are common with aging.
- It helps with insomnia. Certain medications and life events can prevent the body from proper sleep. Higher levels of physical activity can help exhaust the body enough to place it in a position for restful and lasting sleep. Avoid strenuous exercise two hours before bed to obtain these benefits and aim to meet the daily activity recommendations.
- Exercise increases cardiovascular strength exercise benefits seniors by improving their endurance level which also increases energy levels.
- It helps with flexibility and range of motion. If we don’t use it, we’ll most certainly lose it. This 100 percent applies to our flexibility and range of motion. 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.
- It can make you look younger. Skin can be affected by the amount of oxidative stress in your body. Oxidative stress occurs when the body’s antioxidant defenses cannot completely repair the damage that free radicals cause to cells. This can damage their internal structures and deteriorate your skin. Even though intense and exhaustive physical activity can contribute to oxidative damage, regular moderate exercise can increase your body’s production of natural antioxidants, which help protect cells. In the same way, exercise can stimulate blood flow and induce skin cell adaptations that can help delay the appearance of skin aging.
- Exercising results in overall longer lives. According to the World Health Organization, leading a sedentary lifestyle is one of 10 leading causes of death and disability. Even gentle, regular exercise such as walking, or swimming can increase lifespan by around three to five years.