Exercise is important for people of all ages.

People were made to move, but unfortunately, in this day and age, sedentary lifestyles have become the norm. The truth is that, no matter how old you are, regular physical activity will help you to become healthier — and to stay that way for a lot longer. Many older adults don’t get enough exercise, and there are many reasons for this. But, even if you can no longer lift weights like Arnold Schwarzenegger or race around the track like Usain Bolt, it’s still important to do what you can to stay active, and there are many benefits that come with doing so. Here are a few of the many benefits of exercise for seniors:

#1. It helps to make your bones strong.

Throughout the aging process, it’s perfectly normal to start to lose bone mass and density, and that’s particularly true for women who have gone through menopause. This increases your risk of breaking something if you fall or have an accident, but you’ll be glad to know that exercise can go a long way toward making your bones strong again. Believe it or not, bone is actually comprised of living tissue, and when you engage in weight-bearing exercises, it leads to the formation of new bone tissue, which helps to make your bones stronger. Additionally, when your muscles tug on your bones during physical activity, it helps to strengthen both the muscle and the bone.

#2. It can take pressure off of sore joints.

Joint pain is a common problem among older people. There are, of course, many reasons for this, including degenerative joint disease — which is the most common form of arthritis — osteoporosis — which wears away the cartilage in joints — and stiff tendons and ligaments. But, no matter what is causing your joint pain, a little bit of exercise can go a long way toward helping you find relief, or at the very least, reducing the pressure. Although exercise is probably the last thing on your mind if you struggle with sore joints, it will help to build and strengthen the muscles that support your joints, which will help to take some of the pressure off of them.

#3. It helps to reduce your risk of falling.

Did you know that falls are actually the number one cause of death from an injury for people who are 65 and older? One of the reasons for this is that your ability to balance diminishes with age. There are many age-related changes that can affect your balance, including changes in vision, a newly found fear of falling, pain, changes in judgement, a weakened vestibular system (inner ear) and a loss of strength. The problem is that, when you’re already afraid of falling, your first instinct is to sit still, not to get up and move around even more. But, this is counterproductive, and only makes your risk of falling even higher. Exercising on a daily basis is a great step in the right direction for reducing your fall risk and increasing your balance. And, as we learned in our first point, exercising also helps to strengthen your bones, so if you do fall, your risk of actually breaking something won’t be as high.

#4. It helps to control your weight.

There is an obesity epidemic in the United States, and it puts you at risk for a number of conditions, including heart disease, many types of cancer, type 2 diabetes and stroke — which also happen to be many of the most common causes of preventable death. People who are overweight or obese tend to require more medical care, which can get pricey. On average, medical costs for people who are obese are over $1,400 higher per year than for people of an average weight. And, unfortunately, rates of obesity have soared the highest among older populations over the past few years. Although diet plays a huge role in your weight, exercise is an important aspect for keeping it under control.

#5. It could reduce your risk of developing dementia.

Dementia is already a big problem in the United States, but according to the Alzheimer’s Association, it’s only expected to get worse. Over the next 12 years, the number of people in the United States suffering from Alzheimer’s disease — which is the most common form of dementia — is expected to increase by 40 percent. But, the good news is that you can reduce your risk of developing dementia by as much as 50 percent by simply making exercise a part of your daily routine. This is according to a study published in Archives of Medical Research by Dr. Kirk Erickson from the University of Pittsburgh. You see, the areas of the brain that aid in complex thinking and memory formation — the prefrontal cortex and the hippocampus — are actually very responsive to physical activity. In fact, increased activity is actually correlated with an increase in size in both of these areas.

Exercise is important for so many reasons, and in our next blog, we’ll be going over a few more benefits of exercising for seniors. Stay tuned to learn more!

In the meantime, if you or your loved one could benefit from senior care, contact us! Our senior living consultants are dedicated to helping you find the right option and the right community for your needs, and we’ll do so at no cost to you! Contact us today to get started!