Exercise is constantly being pushed as a way to develop better health. Yet seniors over the age of 65 and their caregivers sometimes worry about if exercise could do more harm than good. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, exercise is safe and beneficial for the majority of seniors. However, it should be noted that some modifications might need to be made to keep seniors comfortable such as using chair exercises for seniors with balance issues. Seniors should also seek the advice of their doctor before trying any new strenuous type of exercise if they have known health issues such as a heart condition. Once a senior has the go ahead, exercising every day provides a wealth of benefits for their health that prevents serious issues down the road.
Reduce Arthritis Pain
When arthritis pain strikes, seniors sometimes struggle with the temptation to avoid exercising because of the pain. However, exercise is beneficial for arthritis because moving the joints relieves the stiffness that contributes to pain and difficulty with mobility. At first, seniors may want to stick with low-impact exercise such as swimming, but they can usually begin doing other types of workouts as their arthritis symptoms improve.
Improve Cognitive Functioning
Brain health is a critical part of every senior’s care plan. While doing mental workouts such as crosswords is helpful for staving off memory loss, it is also important to get that blood pumping to the brain. Exercising improves cognitive functioning by sending oxygen where it is needed so that seniors can think with greater clarity and avoid having more of those little senior moments.
Increase Cardiovascular Health
High blood pressure and cholesterol are two common issues that can be controlled without taking a bunch of pills if a senior focuses on exercising after their diagnosis. Working out also strengthens the heart and helps lower weight, which contributes to the risk for heart attacks and strokes. Essentially, a few minutes of working out every day can add up to major improvements in a senior’s cardiovascular health.
Enjoy Greater Mental Wellbeing
Feeling blue is no way for a person to spend their golden years. Sadly, depression and anxiety are common among seniors who struggle with issues such as loss as they age. During a workout, a senior’s body releases endorphins that promote a better mood. To maximize this benefit, seniors should strive to exercise in natural settings. Taking a walk through a botanical garden or hiking through the woods promotes a sense of relaxation that seniors carry with them throughout the day.
Ease Digestive Distress
It is normal for the gastrointestinal processes to slow down as part of the aging process. This often leads to major digestive distress such as heartburn, constipation and gas pains. Taking medication for these types of disorders often leads to side effects such as diarrhea that are undesirable. For this reason, exercise can be used to stimulate better digestion. As a senior moves their body, the rocking action helps to stimulate the digestive processes and move food more efficiently through their system. Walking and jogging also helps with constipation because it has a stimulating effect upon the colon.
Find Natural Pain Relief
Those same endorphins that improve a senior’s mood after exercising also serve as the body’s natural way to relieve pain. This is important for seniors with conditions such as fibromyalgia or arthritis that deal with pain on a daily basis. Working out can reduce or even eliminate the need to take pain relieving medications that can cause other health issues to flare up.
Develop Greater Balance
Fall prevention becomes very important in the senior years, and using exercise to increase a senior’s balance makes it easier for them to avoid injuries that put their quality of life in jeopardy. For instance, seniors who build their core strength will be better able to catch themselves if they slip so that they do not go crash landing on the ground.
Build Bone Density
As time goes by, seniors become at greater risk for losing bone mass and developing osteoarthritis. Since brittle bones are more likely to break during a fall, seniors must focus on performing weight-bearing exercises that help increase their bone density. While lifting weights is one way to strengthen a senior’s bones, positive effects on bone mass can also be obtained from low-impact exercises such as walking.
Find Opportunities for Socialization
People often forget that spending time with friends and family members is an important way to boost a senior’s physical health. Seniors who choose to exercise in group classes designed for older adults benefit from finding new friends who will motivate them to stay in shape. Exercising together is also a great way for families to bond, and taking a walk with a loved one promotes both better mental and physical health.
Give the Immune System a Boost
When a senior is in good overall health, their immune system is able to function at peak efficiency. This helps seniors to avoid those annoying colds that can sometimes turn into dangerous illnesses such as pneumonia when their immune system is weak. Performing light exercises can also help seniors fight off a minor cold before it has a chance to get serious.
Lower the Risk of Developing Cancer
People often focus on the importance of quitting smoking and avoiding environmental pollutants for preventing cancer. While these are important, seniors should also be aware of other risk factors for cancer such as obesity and inactivity. Certain types of cancer such as colon and breast have been linked to being overweight. For this reason, seniors should consider their daily workout to be another tool in their cancer-prevention game plan.
Laughter may be considered to be the best medicine, but exercise is right up there for preventing many major illnesses. In fact, regular exercise can even reverse some health conditions such as pre-diabetes so that seniors can restore their vitality. When compared to other types of health care strategies, exercise just can’t be beat. Seniors who are looking for a low cost, non-invasive way to improve their health have only to get their bodies moving to enjoy benefits that make every part of their lives better.