The Many Benefits of Exercise – At Any Age!
Exercise isn’t an “age thing”. You can benefit from exercise at any age. For seniors, lower intensity exercise is usually possible, and can provide a multitude of benefits. Exercise has been shown to improve a number of different health conditions, as well as to contribute to an overall sense of well-being. Being that September is Healthy Aging Month it is a good reminder to think about including exercise in your routine.
What are the Benefits of Exercising for Seniors?
Have you ever noticed that one of the basic features of physical therapy is simply to get you moving? That’s because there are definite health benefits. You don’t have to wait for physical therapy to start exercising on your own.
Some of the benefits include:
Improvement of certain health conditions. Exercise improves the performance of your digestive system, increases bone density, and lowers blood pressure. It has also been shown to improve the body’s immune system. This can lower the risk of diabetes, obesity, osteoporosis, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s disease. There’s even some evidence that regular exercise reduces the likelihood of certain cancers.
Maintaining proper body weight. If you’ve ever tried to lose weight through diet alone, you know what a tough road that can be. Adding regular exercise to your routine can help you to lose weight, especially in combination with a proper diet.
Improves mobility and balance. Since exercise increases muscle capacity, there’s less strain on bones. This can improve posture, and make common activities easier to perform. It’s also shown to be a way to reduce the likelihood of falling, since it also improves coordination along with balance.
Better sleep. Irregular sleep patterns can become more pronounced as we age. Exercise can help you to maintain a better sleep schedule. The fact that you are spending additional energy during the day can make it easier to stay asleep throughout the night. And if you can achieve deeper sleep at night, everything else will go better during the day.
Provides a greater sense of control over your health. No matter what your age, regular exercise has a way of boosting confidence. Because you are regularly pushing your body at least a little bit beyond your normal limits, you develop greater confidence in performing everyday tasks.
What are Some of the Better Exercises for Seniors?
First, banish any thoughts of the pumping iron phenomenon that’s so popular in the media culture. Any type of aerobic exercise, as well as light resistance workouts, will get the job done.
There are three basic areas of exercise to work into your routine:
1. Cardio. This is any kind of exercise that will accelerate your heart rate. That will strengthen your heart, and improve your endurance. It can also reduce episodes of fatigue and even shortness of breath. Walking, swimming, bicycling, tennis, and dancing can get the job done.
2. Strength training. This is resistance exercise. It involves using free weights, weight machines, or even your own body weight, through repetitious exercises that will eventually increase muscle strength. It helps to build muscle and improve balance, and also reduce the likelihood of the loss of bone mass.
3. Stretching exercises. This is a set of exercises designed to improve flexibility. One of the benefits for seniors is that is a completely low impact workout. You can do stretching exercises on a mat in your room. Yoga is another good form of exercise for flexibility, and it can be done is in a group as well. Stretching exercises should generally be done before cardio and strength training.
Whatever type of exercise you choose, be sure to get a full examination by your doctor before beginning. Discuss the type of exercise you’ll be doing, and whether or not there any limitations on what you should do and how much.
Once you begin exercising, be sure to start slowly. Concentrate on doing no more than 10 minutes of exercise, and then gradually build up to 30 minutes or more. You’ll need to give your body time to acclimate to the new routine.
Try Working Out in a Group
Exercise is often best done in a group. This is especially important if safety is a concern, as it always should be. If you’re working out in a group, or in a remote location, it can be safer to travel as a group. In addition, if anyone experiences an injury or fall, others will be there to provide assistance.
A group can also provide motivation. If you’ve never exercised in the past, there will be an adjustment period involved. It may take support from a group to get you to exercise consistently, or even to finish your exercise routines regularly. And just as others can be a motivation for you, you can help to motivate them.
Exercising in a group can also make it more enjoyable. If you’re working out by yourself, you might be primarily focused on completing your routine. If that’s the case, your motivation will be simply to finish. But if you’re exercising in a group, you can enjoy camaraderie and even humor.
Starting something new is never easy. But making it into a group activity can help to make it an ongoing part of your life.
Check with Us About Exercise Programs
At The Kensington Sierra Madre we provide various programs, including exercise plans and programs. Check with our staff to see what’s available. At a minimum, we may be able to connect you with other residents who are also interested in beginning an exercise program, or with groups that have already formed. Whatever your age or level of health, we have programs available to help you begin participating in some form of exercise.
Don’t let your age stop you! You can exercise at just about any age. Get out and go; happy Healthy Aging Month!