By Donna Mischke, Director of Family Services at Concierge Care Advisors
We have all heard it over and over…. exercise is good for you! But according to the Centers for Disease Control, only around 30% of adults aged 65 to 74 are physically active. As we age many factors will determine how much we exercise. Overall health, disease, and ability are all factors that influence many seniors and whether or not they will be active. Some may no longer have the energy required to perform any type of exercise. However, studies are showing that the benefits of even a little bit of movement can dramatically improve not only the physical health but also have a huge impact on mental health.
Regular exercise can help prevent heart disease and prevent and/or control diabetes. Exercise will improve an immune system that is often compromised as we age. Studies show that even light walking or moving arms while sitting can significantly improve our health. Another important aspect of exercise is the benefits to our mental health. Exercise will produce endorphins which are the feel-good hormones. These hormones act as stress relievers, will improve brain function and help improve sleep. Exercise will also improve overall strength, flexibility, balance and coordination. All these factors can greatly reduce the risk of falls. Seniors take much longer to recover from falls, so anything to help avoid falling will greatly improve health. Regular physical activity can also improve cognitive function. Studies are now suggesting that physically active adults may have a lower risk of developing dementia. Basically, it seems obvious that there are very substantial benefits to exercising, especially as we age. Of course, before you start any type of physical activity you should always consult your doctor. There are so many varieties and different ways to get moving.
A popular program for adults over 65 years old is the Silver Sneakers Program. This fitness plan is included with many Medicare Advantage Plans and offers gym memberships, classes and clubs. Many senior centers and retirement centers also offer many options for exercise. There are yoga classes, dancing classes, walking programs, and even chair exercises for those not able to exercise on their feet. Many local community shopping malls offer walking groups before the malls open and allow these groups to get their walking done indoors. This is a great option for those living in cold, rainy or humid areas. Biking is also a great way to stay in shape. Many communities offer walking and bike paths. Swimming is one of the best exercises for anyone and can really be advantageous to aging adults. Swimming increases circulation and is a perfect exercise for anyone struggling with arthritis because it places no pressure on the joints.
Exercising for aging adults can be one of the most important activities to increase health. Not only do the benefits help physically, they can also help mentally, emotionally, and socially. There are so many options now to find an activity to enjoy and pursue it. Local senior centers and other senior advocacy places can offer a variety of options that will help seniors continue to learn, grow and keep the brain sharp and active. Find a way to incorporate some type of activity in your life and you will be rewarded in so many more ways than you can imagine.