Whether you are 20 or 70, it is never too late to start working out. Exercise is highly beneficial for every age group and becomes more important as we age. It is one of the most powerful things to do to stay healthy and live longer. It can be daunting for seniors to start an exercise program. Some older adults blame age, aches, and pains for not exercising. But exercise can help lower the risk of medical conditions such as heart attack or stroke. It is recommended that adults should participate in at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic physical activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity per week, or a combination of both. Read on to learn more about how exercise can benefit you no matter how old you are.
Stopping The Clock is Possible
No matter how many anti-aging products we use, aging is inevitable. It is an unavoidable natural process that we all must undergo. There are some changes our bodies undergo as we age that we can prevent, including:
Balance: The ability to balance decreases as we age, making falling highly likely. This may occur due to loss of muscle. With balance exercises, you can significantly avoid nasty injuries from falls and continue being mobile and independent.
Flexibility: As we age, our joints and tendons gradually decrease their range of motion leading to stiffness. This makes moving and bending hard and can lead to more injuries.
Strength and lean muscle tissue: Older adults have decreased muscle, strength, and tissue quality. We reach our peak muscle mass at about age 20, which starts to decline by 1% every year from age 30.
Cardiovascular fitness: We lose aerobic fitness as we age, which may contribute to low mobility. Additionally, heart changes and loss of muscle tissue can make it difficult for the body and heart to supply oxygen throughout the body.
Bone density: We reach our peak bone density at about age 20. Our bones become weaker and thinner as we age, which can often result in osteoporosis.
You can overcome the loss of strength, flexibility, endurance, and balance by working out. This will give you the energy and stamina to do what you love, like playing with your grandchildren or taking a long stroll. Being inactive can make older people lose their ability to do things alone, leading to depression, stress, cognitive decline, low self-esteem, and bad mood. Once you start working out, you can overcome all these challenges and become stronger, more energetic, healthier, and happier in the long run.
A physical activity program can help seniors to:
- Prevent type 2 diabetes
- Prevent stroke
- Prevent heart disease
- Prevent high blood pressure
- Improve physical function
- Prevent several cancers, including bladder, breast, colon, endometrium, esophagus, kidney, stomach, and lung.
- Reduce the risk of dementia
- Improve bone health
- Reduce all-cause mortality
- Lowers the risk of falls and injuries from falls
- Controls joint swelling and pain associated with arthritis
- Improve the quality of life
- Reduce symptoms of anxiety, stress, and depression and promote improvements in mood
- Maintain healthy bones, muscles, and joints
- Helps you lose weight and increases lean muscle mass
- It improves sleep
Get The Green Light
It would be best if you began by seeing your doctor before beginning physical activity. During your appointment, they will perform a physical exam to assess your current physical level and ensure your health is in good condition to start exercising. This helps identify whether any medical conditions might affect your ability to exercise. You must adjust your physical activity level if you have arthritis, osteoporosis, hypertension, or heart conditions. However, this should not stop you from starting because exercise helps you manage these conditions.
Your doctor will give you clearance, guide your first steps, and advise you on how to do it safely without injuring yourself. They can also recommend exercise groups in your locality that are facing similar challenges as you are.
As you begin to get really into it, you can use a few tools to monitor your exercise progress, such as:
Timer or stopwatch: This helps time your exercises and take pulse measurements before and after working out.
Activity tracker or pedometer: This is a helpful tool that registers the number of daily steps.
Journal: This is an essential tool because it helps you monitor or track your daily exercises and routines as you follow up on your progress from the beginning.
It is crucial always to warm up and stretch before beginning any workout. This helps reduce muscle soreness, minimize the risk of injury, and gradually increases your heart rate and blood flow, enabling more oxygen to reach your muscles. You can try simple trunk rotations or arm swings.
Exercising a few days a week can significantly improve your endurance. Make your target to be 30 minutes for at least five days weekly. Ideal exercises include riding a bicycle, swimming, or brisk walking. If you cannot follow through with the 30 minutes, you can break it into two 15 minutes or three 10-minute sessions.
Aging is not the only factor that leads to muscle loss. Another reason is when you stop exercising or doing activities that engage and build muscles. Strength training is advantageous to the body. It can help reverse declines in strength and muscle mass for years. When your muscles are stronger, it helps protect your joints, strengthen bones, lower your risk of falls, and improve your balance. If you are beginning to lift weights, you can enroll in senior fitness classes for help and bring along a friend to motivate you. You can do strength training exercises at least twice per week or every other day by doing three sets of every 8 to 12 repetitions or as your trainer advises.
Flexibility is key as you get older. Include bending and stretching exercises such as Yoga, Pilates, Tai Chi, or water exercises in your exercise program to improve your flexibility. One of the best times to do these exercises is after strength training or a hot bath because your muscles will warm up and make it easier to move around. Another benefit of stretching exercises is reducing stress and improving your posture.
Balance exercises are key in helping you prevent falls and improve stability. You can start by being more active. If you have severe balance problems, seek the advice of a doctor before beginning.
Physical Exercise and Cognitive Functioning
As we age, the body goes through several changes. One of the changes occurs in the prefrontal cortex, which is associated with executive functioning and attention. The ability to take in sensory information due to age-related decline is also affected by age. These challenges can increase the risk of falling at least twice that of cognitively normal older adults. Moderate-intensity exercises increase memory and cognitive flexibility, while high-intensity exercises help improve information processing speed. The exercises can improve thinking and memory in six months. Such exercises include swimming, running, aerobic exercises, and weight lifting.
It is essential to begin your exercise programs with something simple and easy, then gradually increase the intensity. The best approach is to find an exercise program you enjoy because you are more likely to stick with it.
At Advanced Care Specialists, we recommend regular physical activity to substantially improve your health and prevent disease as you age for an improved quality of life and health.