The Benefits of Exercise for Seniors

Senior Fitness for Healthy Aging

Staying physically active is important for those of all ages, but for older adults, exercise offers even more long-term health benefits. Did you know that exercise actually can be an effective treatment for some of the most common chronic conditions seniors tend to suffer from?

However, seniors may be hesitant to start exercising for a number of reasons. Perhaps arthritis makes it difficult and painful to move, or they think that engaging in physical activity may do more harm than good. Sometimes, seniors may be leery of joining a gym, simply because they aren’t sure how to properly use the equipment.

Recently, studies have shown the damaging effects living a sedentary lifestyle has on overall health. The Mayo Clinic revealed that 50-70 percent of Americans spend six or more hours sitting every day, and non-movement for hours at a time is linked to the development of a variety of conditions, like diabetes, physical disabilities, and cognitive decline.

Reasons to Start a Senior Exercise Program

It’s never too late to get active! The key is to find an activity you enjoy, and start off slowly until you feel more physically fit. It’s recommended to get at least 30 minutes of activity daily, which you can break into manageable ten-minute increments at first.
Start exercising, and start experiencing some of these key benefits:

  • Prevent disease or chronic conditions: Regular exercise can help delay or even prevent health issues like diabetes, heart disease, stroke and osteoporosis.
  • Slow cognitive decline: Studies have shown a positive correlation between exercise and brain health; in fact, exercise may be one of the most cost-effective ways seniors can boost their memory performance. Exercise increases heart rate, when leads to more oxygen being pumped to the brain.
  • Manage stress and improve mood: Exercise helps seniors prepare for life’s daily stresses, allowing them to react better in tense situations. Plus, researchers found that exercise can treat major depressive disorders almost as well as medications.
  • Improve healing and function: A healthy, strong body can better fight off infection and makes recovery from illness or injury easier.
  • Increase strength, balance and stability: 1 out of 3 adults age 65 or older suffer a fall every year, and exercise is a key component in improving strength, balance and stability. Staying physically active helps seniors stay steady on their feet and remain more independent overall.
  • Improve quality of life and increase life expectancy: The increased mobility that comes from regular, moderate exercise can help seniors maintain their independence if it is done on a long-term basis. Remember, consistency is more important than intensity!

Safe Exercises for Seniors

Before starting any senior exercise program, talk to your physician to make sure there are no physical limitations standing in your way. You’ll find that the more you exercise, the more you will start enjoying it and the sooner it will become part of your daily routine. 
Incorporate these types of exercises into your workout regimen:

  • Stretching Exercises: Stretching also helps seniors maintain flexibility, which means less muscle soreness and stiffness. Plus, when muscles are loose and supple they are less prone to injury, and you’ll have a better overall range of motion. Before starting a workout, your muscles need to be warmed up, and as you’re ending a workout it’s important to cool them down by properly stretching.
  • Strength/Resistance Exercises: Strength-training exercises are beneficial to seniors because they help prevent loss of bone mass and improve balance- both of which are key to mobility and avoiding falls. Utilizing equipment like weights or bands while completing repetitive motions ultimately improves your overall muscle strength.
  • Aerobic, Cardio and Endurance Exercises: These exercises, which include walking, swimming, hiking and cycling, help promote independence because they increase endurance for daily tasks like house cleaning and running errands.  Your heart rate increases and your breathing becomes faster by utilizing large muscle groups in rhythmic motions over a specified period of time.

Stay Fit and Healthy at Trail Ridge

At Trail Ridge, we recognize the importance senior fitness has on healthy aging. Our wellness programs are designed to keep residents active and enjoying the best quality of life possible. For more information about senior living options near Sioux Falls, contact us today at 605-339-4847.