Exercise and Healthy Living in Seniors
Exercise is important for people of all ages to maintain good health and prevent illnesses, but it is especially beneficial for seniors because it promotes independence and adds zest and energy to their everyday lives. Exercising and eating a healthy diet can greatly impact the overall health and well-being of seniors. It allows you to live on your own, rather than move into a nursing home, and maintain a high quality of life.
Healthy living is not just about staying strong and fit—it also helps keep your mind sharp and your mood steady. Regular exercise can even help reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes in seniors, who are more likely to suffer from these issues than younger adults.
Let us understand in detail why exercise and healthy living are essential for seniors.
Importance of Exercise and Healthy Living
Physical activity is an immune system booster and can help you fight infections and inflammation, postponing many health issues that accompany aging. It also helps your muscles grow stronger, allowing you to continue your daily activities without becoming dependent on others. Here are a few more benefits of exercising:
Prevents Falls and Injuries
Falls are one of the most common health problems that affect seniors. In fact, according to a study published by the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS), the majority of hip fractures occur in people 65 years of age or older.
But falls and fractures need not be an inevitable part of aging; regular exercise improves strength and flexibility, which can help with balance and coordination, reducing the risk of falls. This makes exercise and healthy living an important part of preventing fractures in older adults.
Keeps Your Heart Healthy
Exercise increases your heart rate and makes you breathe faster to pump more oxygen and blood to your muscles. It strengthens the heart, making it work more efficiently and pump out a greater volume of blood. Cardio exercise also helps open up other blood vessels, allowing them to move more blood throughout the body and thus lower blood pressure. This is significant because high blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease.
Improves Mental Health
Research has shown that exercise plays an important role in reducing depression symptoms and improving one’s mood overall. It also helps in the following ways:
- Sleep Quality – Improving sleep quality is vital for overall health as you grow older. Regular physical activity can help you sleep faster, sleep deeper, and wake up feeling more energized and refreshed.
- Self-confidence – Exercise helps release endorphins which help reduce feelings of sadness, depression, and anxiety. It can make you feel active and strong, making you more self-confident.
Improves Brain Health
Physical activity can help you think better, learn more, solve problems, and maintain emotional balance. It can aid in preventing memory loss, cognitive decline, and dementia. Getting active may also even help slow the progression of brain disorders like Alzheimer’s. Though exercising does not necessarily prevent cognitive decline with aging, it can clearly help delay the onset.
Exercise also improves focus and concentration. Activities that increase your heart rate, such as brisk walking, running, swimming, or cycling, can significantly improve focus levels.
Prevents Bone Loss
Both men and women lose bone density as they age. Exercise training prevents and restores bone density loss. It simulates osteogenic effects and improves bone health, which is extremely beneficial for bone and muscle mass preservation. Stronger bones result in fewer fractures and can also help with balance.
Moving more can also help with arthritis pain and stiffness. Low-impact cardiovascular activity, strength training, and range-of-motion exercises relieve pressure on aching joints by strengthening the surrounding muscles. Physical activity may also help reduce pain and stiffness by minimizing joint inflammation and lubrication.
Best Exercise for Seniors
Older adults over the age of 65 should focus on a variety of strength and mobility exercises, as well as balance and aerobic activity. It is recommended that you engage in moderate-intensity activity for at least 150 minutes a week, such as walking briskly, or 75 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity exercise, such as hiking, jogging, or running.
However, the best exercises are those that you want to do and will do on a regular basis.
A few exercises you can try are:
- Aerobic activities like walking, cycling, or even dancing. You can also go on nature walks along a creek, at the beach, or on a mountain, which will allow you to enjoy different terrain while improving strength, agility, and balance, resulting in safer overall movement.
- Strength training exercises using your own body weight or resistance bands. You can try certain exercises which can help you in your daily life, like standing up from a chair without support, bridge exercise, and so on.
- Flexibility exercises can help reduce the amount of energy required for standing and walking. Stretches that target the shoulders, hips, and legs—body parts that commonly contribute to balance issues can be included.
- Balance exercises can help reduce the risk of falls as you age. Multiple systems like the vision, inner ear for balance, and touch system work in tandem with the brain to maintain balance. Tai Chi, lower body strength training, and others can help improve balance in seniors.
It is essential to create a plan with a trainer (physical therapist or occupational therapist) that is specific to your physical abilities and preferences. Try to make it interesting and enjoyable by involving a friend or partner every day.
Paying attention to your diet along with regular physical activity will help you maintain good health. A diet with fruits, vegetables, and lean meats, which are rich in antioxidants, can help boost your immune system. Also, try to limit your intake of sugary and fatty foods, which can cause inflammation in the body and weaken your immune system.
Exercise and healthy living are essential for everyone, but they are especially important for senior citizens. Caring for your health and having the right health coverage for your situation is the best thing you can do for yourself.
Finding the right insurance for Medicare coverage has never been easier—DeverCare Insurance Group will help you choose the right insurance coverage by walking you through multiple carriers available in your area. We offer in-home, office, or even virtual appointments. Contact us today for more information.