It can be a challenge for seniors to keep moving while in isolation but it is important that they stay active to maintain their health.
Here are some of the benefits of exercise for seniors.
Exercise has so many beneficial effects on our mental and physical health and is considered to be an essential component of a healthy lifestyle. The list of benefits is endless but here are five major benefits of exercise for seniors.
The benefits listed below are not in any particular order and should all be valued equally. To achieve the most benefit from exercise you should aim to follow the guidelines shown below.
“Any exercise is beneficial but it is most important to find types that you enjoy.”
Decreased risk of developing dementia or Alzheimer’s
Many studies that looked at the effects of aerobic exercise in middle-aged adults or older adults have reported improvements in thinking and memory, and reduced rates of dementia. The results of 11 studies were combined and it was shown that regular exercise could potentially reduce the risk of developing dementia by about 30% and the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease was reduced by around 45%. These studies focused specifically on aerobic exercise, which is any type of exercise that is considered to be low to moderate in intensity and can be sustained for some time.
Some good examples of aerobic exercise are walking, swimming, or cycling. It is not understood why exercise can help with these conditions, but it seems to be related to improved blood flow to the brain and an increased release of chemicals that protect the brain.
Exercise is a great way to improve your mood and those that exercise regularly have fewer symptoms of depression and anxiety. There are many reasons why exercise could help improve your mood but it appears to be related to an increase in production of serotonin and endorphins. Serotonin is a chemical released in your brain that helps regulate mood, sleep, and appetite. Endorphins are another chemical released in your brain that can produce feelings of euphoria or general well being. The feelings of accomplishment that you receive from completing a good workout are also a great source of pride and achievement!
It has been shown that individuals that exercise regularly tend to fall asleep more quickly and have improved sleep quality. Those that exercise regularly typically have increases in the amount of deep sleep that occurs. Deep sleep is when your brain and body recover and is essential in waking up feeling rested and refreshed. It is not entirely understood how exercise improves sleep, but it is believed that the exercise will physically tire you out and decrease stress levels, which will allow you to sleep.
Decreased risk of cardiovascular disease and protection
This is one of the most widely known benefits of regular exercise and has been studied extensively. Although most people know about this benefit, it is too important to leave out of this list. Your heart is a muscle itself and needs regular exercise. Exercising will keep your heart strong and allow it to pump blood around your body with less strain. Additionally, exercise can help reduce blood pressure and cholesterol levels, which significantly reduces the risk of suffering a cardiac event (e.g heart attack).
As we age, our bone mineral density declines and this can cause our bones to become quite fragile and weak, this is known as osteoporosis. Unfortunately, the weakened state of the bones increases the risk of suffering a fracture. However, bones can be strengthened through exercise. The most important exercises for bone building are weight-bearing and resistance exercise. Weight-bearing exercise is any activity that you do on your feet and resistance exercise is working against gravity (e.g weights), these two types of exercise exert force on the bones and encourage them to become stronger.