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Active Seniors: The Benefits of Exercise as You Age

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a senior man stands at the edge of a swimming pool holding a towel, preparing to exercise

Looking Forward to Activity

Enjoying life to the fullest at any age means engaging with a variety of experiences. Making an effort to stay mobile can be more challenging for seniors. Yet, the benefits often outweigh or even help alleviate those challenges.

Seniors can look forward to exercising while aging with supportive services and community activities that promote active living.

The Benefits of Physical Activity

Staying physically active and engaging in regular exercise has many benefits for older adults. However, it can sometimes be challenging for seniors to remain active as aging changes our bodies. For example, seniors may find intensive activities challenging if they have chronic conditions. Fortunately, there are ways to stay active for all ages and all ability levels.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), seniors need at least:

  • 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity activities
  • 2 days a week of muscles-strengthening activities
  • 3 days a week of balance-enhancing activities

Seniors may follow the CDC’s general activity guidelines or get personalized recommendations from a health care professional. Your doctor may also suggest tailoring activities for your needs and abilities. Alternatively, they may recommend working with a physical therapist.

Getting started can often be the most challenging part. It’s okay to start slow. Set realistic goals to build your endurance, flexibility, strength, and balance. For example, you might decide to go for a 10-minute walk every day or practice strengthening exercises for 15 minutes 3 times a week.

After you find options to help you get moving, you can start to enjoy the benefits of active living.

Decreasing Health Risks

Inactivity increases the risk of hospitalizations and the need for more medications. By maintaining an active lifestyle, seniors can decrease health risks. Seniors should practice various types of activities, including:

Maintaining Muscle Strength

Maintaining muscles as you age is challenging. Adults lose 3% of their muscle mass after middle age. Losing muscle mass can increase the risk of falls or injuries and decreases your ability to move independently. 

Strength training or resistance training builds muscle. There are various types of muscle-building exercises, from simplified repetitive movements to weight-lifting.

Strength training activities can help seniors:

  • Build strength
  • Maintain bone density
  • Improve balance & coordination
  • Retain independence

Staying Safe & Independent

Aerobic and strength training exercises can support health and function, but seniors should perform balance exercises. Building muscle can help prevent injuries, but balance exercises are essential for posture, coordination, and stability.

Balance exercises can improve joint mobility, spatial cognition, and mental function. Preventing a fall is crucial for older adults, as even minor injuries can be more severe. With a focus on balance, seniors can be less fearful of falls and enjoy more physical independence. 

Engaging Socially

Although solo exercise has physical benefits, seniors can enjoy more benefits by joining an activity group or class. Making plans with an exercise buddy can inspire seniors to stay active and maintain a regular schedule. Finding someone seniors want to participate with can benefit their physical and emotional health.

Maintaining social connections is essential for keeping seniors healthy. Yet, as we age, we tend to lose social relationships. As a result, older adults are left alone more often, leading to social isolation and loneliness.

Loneliness increases the risks associated with multiple physical and mental health conditions. In addition, social isolation can contribute to cognitive decline, including Alzheimer’s disease.

Pairing exercise with socializing can provide meaningful experiences. It can also enhance the benefits, as fostering social connections can:

  • Boost mood & mental health
  • Help seniors live longer
  • Improve cognitive function
  • Maintain general wellbeing
  • Reduce health risks
a group of seniors play tennis to keep active and socialize

Improving Sleep

Adults need about 7–9 hours of sleep each night, yet older adults often don’t get enough sleep. Insomnia is the most common sleep problem in older adults. Still, sleep apnea, movement disorders, or cognitive conditions can also interrupt healthy sleep patterns. 

Sleep issues can also be a side effect of medications. Nearly 40% of adults over 65 take 5 or more medications. Antihistamines, antidepressants, corticosteroids, and opiates commonly contribute to daytime drowsiness or insomnia. 

Participating in daily exercise can help seniors improve their sleep. Moderate to vigorous exercise can help seniors fall asleep faster, decreasing how long they lie awake due to insomnia. Staying physically active during the day also keeps you alert, alleviating daytime sleepiness.

Boosting your mood with exercise can also benefit sleep. Achieving at least 30 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise can help relax the mind to seniors enjoy better sleep the same night.

Community Active Living

Maintaining an exercise routine is easier when seniors have access to a supportive community and more activity options. Senior living provides older adults with more opportunities to engage at their pace.

Our community at Silver Comet Village was designed for your comfort and convenience. We want to promote healthy living that allows seniors to live life to the fullest. So, schedule a visit or contact us to learn more about our caring, active community!

Ginger Laprise

Written by Ginger Laprise

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