There are countless benefits of exercise for people of all ages. For Senior citizens, exercising is particularly beneficial. Contrary to what one may think about our older population being more at risk of injuries the more active they are, a sedentary lifestyle can actually put them even more at risk. Through physical activity, seniors can help support their overall health, strength and memory.
Regular exercise helps your heart become stronger, which lessens strain on the heart and makes it easier to pump blood throughout your body. This in turn reduces the risk of certain diseases and disabilities. These include: heart disease, certain cancers, diabetes, high blood pressure and arthritis. In addition to this, overall immune function increases and the loss of bone mass decreases.
Balance problems become less of an issue with regular exercise as well. With the senior population, falls which may lead to broken hips or other injuries are all too common. Keeping up with an active lifestyle promotes strength, flexibility and posture, which then improves balance. If an injury should happen anyway, exercise has also been proven to improve wound healing by up to 25%.
Starting at age 30, our muscle tissue decreases due to physical inactivity at a rate of 3-5% each decade. By age 70, that rate can increase to as much as 15%. Strength training can reduce this greatly. For the aging population who enjoy their independence, this can be especially useful, since building or maintaining muscle through strength training can also defend the body against frailty. Decreasing frailty allows people to do more for themselves, making it more likely to be able to live independently.
Finally, with memory issues being a major concern for the aging population, exercise can aid in the prevention of dementia and Alzheimer’s. Physical activity increases the level of protein and blood flow in the area of the brain dealing with memory and learning. This then promotes cell growth in these areas, thus decreasing mental decline.
Keeping a regular schedule of physical activity is truly valuable for anyone’s overall health. When it comes to the senior population, many of their concerns in dealing with aging can be reduced, if not prevented, through exercise alone. It’s never too early or too late to start a routine for you or a loved one. You’ll be glad you did!
Recovering from surgery, injury or illness and looking for ways to reap the benefits of exercise without straining yourself? Contact us at The GreenField Health & Rehabilitation Center, where our physical therapists will be happy to implement an individualized program to get you back in action and feeling good again.