april 1, 2024

Older adults: the Value of exercise

motivation & Tips for staying active

Staying Active at Winter Growth's Adult Day Program

Do you hear the word exercise and go, UGH! And, then you feel very overwhelmed? What type of exercise is good for you? How much exercise is enough? Should you lift weights, or should you run a marathon?

According to the National Council on Aging, regular activity, not just exercise can positively impact our mental, emotional and physical wellbeing. The important thing is finding something that is comfortable and sustainable for you.

How Does Staying Active Impact Our Well-Being?

Some of the key ways that exercise benefits older adults include:

  • Improves Mood: Simply put, exercise makes us feel good. It can help ease anxiety and depression symptoms, increase relaxation, and create an overall sense of wellbeing.
  • Relieves Osteoarthritis Pain: While it may seem counterintuitive, moving more can actually help lessen the pain and stiffness of arthritis. Arthritis-friendly exercise includes low-impact cardiovascular activity, strength training, and range-of-motion exercises.
  • Helps Prevent Chronic Disease: Exercise provides a protective effect against a host of chronic illnesses, including cardiovascular disease, colon cancer, diabetes, obesity, and hypertension.
  • Prevents Bone Loss: Both men and women lose bone density as they age, with post-menopausal women losing up to 2% each year. Strength training has been shown to counteract this loss and actually restore bone density. Having stronger bones leads to fewer fractures and can also aid in balance.
  • Boosts Immunity: A 2018 study linked moderate exercise with a lower incidence of acute respiratory illness and fewer sick days off of work. The exact way exercise supports immunity is not known. However, there are many theories. Some scientists believe that the anti-inflammatory effects of physical activity enable better immune function. Exercise may also improve the performance of immune cells.

What Exercises Are Best for Older Adults?

Ideally, exercise routines for older adults should incorporate a blend of aerobic exercise, strength/resistance training, and stretching/flexibility exercises. Below are some great workout options that can help you improve your mobility, build strength, and enhance your balance and coordination. But, having fun and moving is just as great. Choosing something you enjoy doing makes it more likely that you will stick with it.

  • Yoga: Yoga is a low-impact activity that won’t strain your joints. At the same time, it helps you build up your muscles, stabilize your core, improve your flexibility, and strengthen your bones. Look for an introductory yoga class in your area to help you master basic poses. Some yoga programs are specially designed for older adults and include seated and standing options.
  • Pilates: Like yoga, Pilates offers an effective workout while being gentle on joints. It focuses on building a strong core in order to improve balance and stability and has been shown to reduce the symptoms of arthritis, multiple sclerosis (MS), and Parkinson’s disease. Many of the exercises are performed in sitting or reclining positions. Pilates is a smart option to try if you haven’t exercised in a long time.
  • Aerobic exercise: Adding endurance activity to your day can help boost cardiovascular function, strengthen lungs and airways, and improve everyday stamina. What counts as aerobic exercise? Walking, swimming, and using the stationary bike are all good choices for older adults. Thirty minutes a day is the recommended amount. This can include three short, 10-minute sessions spread out over the day.
  • Strength training: No, we’re not talking about bench pressing 100 pounds! There are simple, low-impact bodyweight training exercises

Remember, always consult your healthcare practitioner before you start any exercise program. Reach out to an exercise specialist and ask for their assistance. And, be sure to take advantage of the fabulous and affordable fitness rooms and programs that our local 50+ centers have to offer.

The Bottom Line

Exercise is good for you. It’s just a matter of making it a habit in your daily life. In the aging population, fitness activities like those offered as a part of Winter Growth’s Day Program have been shown to prevent disease, lower the risk of falls, improve mental health and well-being, strengthen social ties, and improve cognitive function.

Resources

How Seniors Can Benefit from Adopting an Exercise Regimen

National Library of Medicine: Meditation or Exercise for Preventing Acute Respiratory Infection

Exercise Can Help Your Immune System Fight Off Infections

Exercise Can Ease Osteoarthritis Pain

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Winter Growth’s founder dreamed of creating a community where seniors and adults with disabilities could continue to learn and grow – filling their lives with joy and purpose. For over 40 years, we have fulfilled her vision by providing unique, affordable Assisted Living/Memory Care and Adult Medical Day Care tailored to our clients’ individual abilities, interests, and lives.

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