It’s never too late begin! Here’s why exercise is a must for older adults

Exercise is important for individuals of all age groups, but the benefits of exercise for elders cannot be ignored.
An elderly woman with dehydration problem
Old age brings its own set of health problems. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Dr Bhavani Swaminathan Updated: 30 Oct 2023, 11:09 am IST
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Don’t we all know the wonders of exercise? Of course, we do! But it’s quite difficult for older adults to get started. Even if they manage to begin, the pain and sprains, as well as balance issues, prevent many from following a regular fitness routine. But exercise for older adults is the key to a happy and healthy life!

As we get older, physiological changes cause people to have different reasons to stay in shape. Although physical fitness provides a slew of benefits at any age, the health perks physically fit seniors enjoy are more notable. Innumerable researches indicate that seniors should remain as active as possible, without overexerting oneself. In older adults, exercise helps to live a longer, healthier, and more joyous life.

Physical activity is a must for good physical and mental health. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Exercising alone can be a little boring for older adults who are not open to the idea or have never tried anything in the past. There are digital platforms today that offer guided classes as well as Youtube channels by training experts with content designed specifically for older adults. The best thing about these platforms is that you are not alone. Having a friend who can help you stay on routine is a great way to maintain regularity and stay on course to your wellness goals. Humans are social beings and aging is no reason to lose touch with the world, even in exercising.

It is easy to get misguided when starting out on exercises on your own as a senior. If you are restarting an exercise routine, take it slow. This way you can ensure your body recognizes the new movements and adjusts itself to respond positively.

Benefits of exercise for older adults

1. Improving balance

Falling down is a very common problem in older adults. A report by the National Council of Ageing notes “Every 11 seconds, an older adult is admitted to an emergency room for a fall-related injury, and every 19 minutes, a senior dies from a fall.” Though no two falls are alike and preventing falls is quite complex, regular exercise reduces the likelihood of falling by 23 percent.

2. Regular exercise improves brain function

One of the most remarkable developments in health science is the revelation that the mind and the body are much more closely linked than we care to think. A healthy body means a healthy mind, and seniors who exercise on a regular basis have shown improved cognitive health, according to research from NCBI. A study by the Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation reveals that regular exercise has been shown to reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease or dementia by nearly 50 percent.

Also Read: These cardio exercises for elders can help them stay healthy and happy

exercise benefits
Exercise is helpful for brain and overall health. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

3. Regularity means more energy

Being inactive makes one tired. On the contrary, if you are active, you are more energetic. Any amount of exercise promotes the release of endorphins, which are essential neurotransmitters linked to pain mitigation and a feeling of being happy. Endorphins combat stress hormones, promote healthy sleep, and make you feel more lively and energetic. It gives an overall sense of well-being. It also reduces the body’s stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol, thereby helping your body relax.

4. Exercise helps prevent and counteract disease

Heart disease, osteoporosis, depression, and diabetes are common among older adults, and are often deadly. Adopting an active lifestyle can contribute to the prevention of such diseases and reduce the intensity of unpleasant symptoms.
Simple aerobic activity initiates a neurochemical response in the body. It helps burn calories, lowers blood pressure and cholesterol levels, maintains joint movement, improves heart health, and increases overall energy levels. A study by the University of Michigan relates exercise to happiness and positive emotions.

Exercise will keep diseases and depression away. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Why should you push exercise for older adults ?

Exercising is equivalent to investing in an experience. Humans have been known to enjoy experiences better than purchasing material things, which only means that once you start exercising regularly, you will not need an excuse to be unhappy. As important as it is for a healthy mind to balance emotions, exercising for a healthy body too has a directly proportional impact on your state of happiness.

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About the Author

Dr Bhavani Swaminathan, Nutrition and Wellness Coach at GetSetUp ...Read More

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