Exercise is an important part of keeping people healthy. It can prevent diseases, improve chronic conditions, and improve mental health. Older adults stand to gain even more from exercise, but they also face more barriers. Below are five things you need to know about exercising in older age.
#1 Older adults can exercise safely.
Many older adults avoid exercise because they believe it is unsafe. They may have limited mobility or overall weakness that they feel bars them from pursuing fitness.
For example, some adults believe that exercise will put them at risk for falls. In fact, exercise reduces the risk of falling down by building strength and stamina, preserving bone density, and improving balance. Other adults who are disabled may believe that there are no fitness options for them. However, even wheelchair-bound people can lift weights, do stretches, and work on core strength to reap the benefits of exercise. Lastly, some people worry that they already have too much pain to exercise. In some conditions, exercise can help improve pain and manage those chronic conditions.
Of course, the key to exercising safely is to start slow and steady. Many people find it helpful to use a personal trainer or a class geared toward seniors. These can help you develop the basic foundation to have more confidence in your skills.
#2 Exercise can improve mental health.
Exercise can majorly improve mental health. For example, exercise has been shown to improve sleep by helping you fall asleep more quickly, stay asleep, and feel better when awake. It can also help boost your mood by increasing endorphins. These endorphins reduce feelings of sadness, depression, and anxiety.
#3 Exercise can help prevent cognitive decline.
Exercise has been shown to prevent memory loss, cognitive decline, and dementia. This also includes preventing Alzheimer’s Disease. Researchers have found that aerobic fitness can help protect against age-related loss of brain tissue due to aging. It also has been shown to improve the function of certain brain regions responsible for controlling cognition. To support this, scientists found that people with higher levels of fitness are able to process information more quickly.
#4 Exercise Reduces Menopausal Symptoms
Exercise can help reduce many of the symptoms associated with menopause. For example, it can help improve sleep and improve mood. If someone is overweight, it can help them lose weight and therefore reduce hot flashes. Certain exercises, like yoga, strengthen the pelvic floor. Strengthening the pelvic floor is important in order to improve urinary symptoms, like urinary frequency, urgency, and incontinence. Exercise may also improve sexual health, either by improving libido or by helping women enjoy sex more.
#5 Exercise Prevents Certain Diseases
Exercise also helps prevent certain diseases. In women, osteoporosis is a major concern after menopause. Osteoporosis, a disease of bone loss and fragility, can be mitigated through certain types of exercise, like weight-training. Strength-training helps reduce the risks associated with osteoporosis by helping people form core strength and balance.
Additionally, exercise helps reduce the risk for heart disease and stroke in everyone. Exercise has cardiovascular and respiratory benefits, and heart disease and stroke are related to cardiovascular health. Lastly, maintaining a normal body mass index or losing weight to achieve a normal body mass index can reduce the risk for certain types of cancer, like endometrial cancer.
How Much Exercise You Need
In order to reap these benefits, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity. This could include anything, from certain types of yoga, to cycling, to weight-lifting and running. They also state that any exercise is better than none, even if it does not meet moderate intensity. This could include walking. It also does not have to be in large chunks of time. Research has found that breaking up walks into 10-minute blocks instead of 30-minute chunks has the same benefits.
There are many resources to help you on your fitness journey. The internet, local community centers, and private gyms are all great places to get started. The Anti-Aging and Wellness Clinic can help you feel more confident as we safely guide you through the correct fitness regimen for your needs. Contact us to learn more today.