According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, seniors above the age of 65 should get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise a week. They should also aim for at least two resistance training workouts a week to improve muscular strength and bone health.
Despite these recommendations, many older adults are sedentary. Whether this is out of fear or because they are physically unable to exercise safely, they spend most of their days sitting in a chair or lying in bed.
Exercise is important for older adults to promote independent living and improve overall health and well-being. Regular physical activity also reduces the risk of a range of health conditions, including cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, and even neurodegenerative disorders, like dementia.
Exercising as a Senior With Limitations
Staying fit and healthy is essential for a number of reasons. Even if you have a chronic health condition that limits your capacity to exercise, you can still gain the many benefits of regular movement.
For older adults with reduced lung capacity or lung diseases, portable oxygen concentrators are a great option. These devices supply extra oxygen to the body, ensuring all of the working muscles and tissues are supplied with adequate oxygen during exercise.
If you have a physical disability that reduces your capacity for exercise, you may need to modify the types of exercise that you do. However, you don’t need to stay completely sedentary! There are plenty of workout modifications that can make different exercises easier and safer for you.
Working with an exercise professional, such as a personal trainer or physical therapist, is the best option if you’re not sure how to modify your workouts correctly. They will assess your current physical fitness levels and create the best workout program to maximize your health.
Why is Exercise Important for Seniors?
As you surpass the age of 65, physical activity becomes more important than ever before. It keeps your body and brain healthy, and keeps diseases at bay. Let’s cover some of the physical and mental health benefits of adding exercise into your routine as a senior.
For many seniors, staying independent is one of the most important things. It’s what enables them to feel empowered to make their own decisions and confidence in their abilities.
Because physical activity can improve your physical and mental health, it promotes independence. It enables you to live safely at home and continue participating in the social activities that you love.
Improved Cardiovascular Health
Cardiovascular disease is one of the most prevalent health problems across the senior population. One of the largest risk factors for cardiovascular disease is living a sedentary lifestyle.
Studies show that regular exercise can decrease your risk of cardiovascular disease by 35%. It can lower your resting heart rate and reduce your blood pressure by keeping your heart, lungs, and blood vessels healthy.
Enhanced Balance and Stability
Balance and stability can drastically decrease as you get older due to the weakening of the muscles and joints. Physical activity is the best way to slow down this natural decrease in balance and stability.
Even something simple as walking can strengthen the muscles around the ankles and improve your balance. Performing lots of single-leg exercises can also promote great balance and stability in both legs.
When you are more stable on your feet, you’re less likely to fall over. As a result, you’re less likely to sustain any nasty injuries or bone fractures, and you can continue living independently and injury-free.
Better Cognitive Function
Aging is a huge risk factor for cognitive decline and neurodegenerative disorders, such as dementia. Millions of people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease across the world and the disease can build for years before symptoms begin to show.
Exercise of any kind has been shown to lower the risk of neurodegenerative disorders. It’s also been shown to reduce the severity of symptoms in those who have already started to show signs of cognitive decline.
Improved Bone Density
Older adults are at an increased risk of osteopenia and osteoporosis, conditions that cause the bones to become weak and brittle. Osteoporosis is incurable and significantly increases an individual’s risk of bone fractures.
Strength-based exercise can promote bone health, as shown in lots of studies. It can help to maintain bone mineral density (BMD), which minimizes the risk of breakages if you fall over.
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