5 Benefits of Exercise for the Elderly

Find out why you need a consistent workout routine when you reach your 50s.

5 Benefits of Exercise for the Elderly

It’s never too late to start exercising! Whether you’re young or old, can bicycle 100 miles in one go or prefer gentle water aerobics, the benefits of physical activity span the entire lifecycle. However, exercise may be especially important in the elderly, who may have already started to sense some decline in function. By pushing themselves to participate in a certain amount of activity each day, 50+ adults can help stave off the ailments of old age and maintain the level of ability they are more used to. Here are just a few ways regular exercise can help the elderly:

Helps Treat Osteoarthritis

A common misconception is that using your joints more often may wear them out quicker. In older adults who may be suffering from arthritis, particularly in large joints like the knees, engaging in physical activity may seem like a daunting and painful task. However, studies have shown that exercise doesn’t make arthritis worse – it is actually beneficial for joint health! Regular exercise can help strengthen the muscles around joints and also promote the function of cartilage, the smooth casing that covers the bone.

Prevents Falls

Getting exercise every day is also an important intervention that helps reduce falls in older adults. Exercise builds stronger muscles and can help promote better balance, which all leads to people feeling steadier on their feet. According to the CDC, one in four people over the age of 65 experience a fall every year, and approximately three percent of those who fall actually die from it. Exercise, therefore, plays a huge role in keeping the elderly population alive and healthy. What’s more, those who are able to get around on their own without worrying about falling can feel more independent and may ultimately have an improved quality of life than those who cannot.

Improves Cardiovascular Health

It goes without saying that exercise plays a major role in promoting cardiovascular health. Those who participate in the recommended level of activity decrease their chances of diseases like obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. This ultimately has a positive impact on longevity and reduces lifelong disability.

Builds Social Connections

Exercising is also a great way for older adults to remain social and to stay connected with a group of peers. Many people start to feel more isolated and alone as they age, which can have a negative impact on both mental and physical health. By engaging in regular exercise, physical activity gives elderly people an excuse to get up and interact with others during the day, which ultimately may increase their life expectancy as well.

Improves Cognitive Function

One of the biggest fears of growing older is a decline in cognitive function. Luckily, physical exercise even plays a role here too. Studies have shown that getting exercise can improve cognitive function and cognitive processing speed by promoting neuroprotective mechanisms. Similarly, other studies have shown that exercise can have a positive effect on mood in older adults. Exercise truly is the best medicine for the mind, body, and soul.

4 Steps to Shedding Your Pandemic Pounds

Forgive yourself, and start walking toward a healthier you.

For those of you who have put on the Pandemic Pounds or added several new COVID Curves, you are not alone. Alarmingly, the American Psychological Association has recently published that almost half of all adults in their survey now have a larger physique. In fact, 42% of people reported gaining roughly 15 pounds (the average published was surprisingly 29 pounds but that included outliers) over the past year. Interestingly, 20% of adults in this survey lost about 12 pounds (I am surely not in this group). Clearly, there is a relationship between stress and weight change. In addition, one in four adults disclosed an increase in alcohol consumption, and 67% of participants distressingly revealed that they have new sleeping patterns.

This past year has brought about what has been called the 'new normal.' Social isolation and inactivity due to quarantining and remote working have sadly contributed to the decline in many people's mental and physical health, as demonstrated by the widespread changes in people's weight, alcohol consumption, and sleeping patterns. Gym closures, frequent ordering of unhealthy takeout, and increased time at home cooking and devouring comfort foods have had a perceptible impact. In addition, many people have delayed routine medical care and screening tests over fear of contracting Covid-19 during these visits. Unfortunately, the 'new normal' has now placed too many people at risk for serious health consequences, including heart attacks and strokes.

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