Regardless of how old you are, you should make regular exercise a priority in your life.
Whether you’re young or old, rich or poor, everyone, and we mean everyone, could benefit from exercise. But, as you age and your body changes, exercises becomes even more important — and more beneficial — than ever before. In our last blog, our Senior Living Consultants went over a few of the most compelling benefits of exercise for seniors, so if you haven’t had a chance to read it yet, now is the time. Keep reading to learn about more of the many benefits of exercise for seniors:
#6. It could make you happier!
Depression is all too common in older adults, and there are many reasons why older people are depressed. For some, social isolation leads to depression; for others, chronic pain leads to depression; and for others even still, taking certain medications leads to depression. But, regardless of the reason, depression can be difficult to shake. However, exercise can help. In the short term, when you exercise, it causes the brain to release a neurotransmitter, called dopamine. Dopamine is what helps us feel pleasure and happiness, and since dopamine production reduces with age, exercise is necessary to amp up the production again. Exercise can help with long-term happiness, too, by reducing stress and anxiety and helping you get to sleep better each night.
#7. It helps you get a good night’s sleep.
Sleep is worth its weight in gold, and that’s especially true for older people who may find it difficult to fall or stay asleep at night. Around 40 percent of older Americans suffer from “normal” sleep problems, which can include frequent waking, light sleep and fatigue during the day, but many also suffer from sleep disorders, such as restless leg syndrome and sleep apnea. Exercise probably won’t be the end-all-be-all solution for every sleep problem, but it can help you sleep better at night. A study of more than 2,600 people from the National Sleep Foundation found that people who followed the national guidelines for exercises — which is 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity every week — experienced a 65 percent improvement in the quality of their sleep.
#8. It keeps your heart healthy.
People of all ages should be concerned about their heart health, but as you age, it becomes even more important to pay attention to your heart. With age, changes occur in the blood vessels and the heart. The cells in the heart can start to degenerate with age, and the valves of the heart — which are responsible for controlling the direction that the blood flows through the heart — can start to become stiffer and thicker. This is part of the reason why congestive heart failure is 10 times more common in people who are 75 or older. However, heart problems are very preventable in most cases, and one of the best things you can do to keep your heart healthy is to engage in moderate exercise on a regular basis.
#9. It helps to maintain independence.
After you’ve lived your entire life taking care of yourself — and possibly even taking care of your loved ones — the idea of giving up your independence is not easy to swallow. A loss of independence is among the top fears of older adults, and it’s also the reason why so many people who could benefit from senior care refuse to accept it. Of the many things that can cause you to lose your independence as you age, falls are probably the most common, and as we learned in our previous blog, exercising regularly can help to lower your risk of falling. But, exercise helps you maintain your independence in other ways as well, including keeping you mentally sharp and making you feel happier.
#10. It will help you live longer!
Death is inevitable, but no one wants to die before their time. If you want to live longer, exercising is a must. According to the World Health Organization, sedentary lifestyles are among the top 10 causes of disability and death. A 2012 study from PLOS Medicine found that a longer life expectancy was associated with increased physical activity, and that was true across a wide range of people with different BMIs and activity levels. The same study also found that people who engage in moderate exercise for 150 minutes every week added an average of 3.4 years onto their lives, and that even 75 minutes per week (just 10 minutes per day!) increased lifespans by 1.8 years!
As you can see, there are a number of great benefits for seniors that come with exercising on a regular basis. Many of the senior care options available to you encourage physical activity, including retirement communities, assisted living communities and adult day health care. Let our Senior Living Consultants help you find the right option for your needs. Contact us today to get started.