It’s hard enough to stay active in your youth and even more challenging as you get older. Along with mounting responsibilities in adulthood comes the slow, gradual degradation of your physical capabilities in your later years. It becomes increasingly harder to find the time and motivation to exercise. However, it is recommended that you really find the time to stay active as you get older. The benefits of doing so include better mental clarity, more physical independence, and a longer, happier life.
In this article, you will learn more about the benefits of an active lifestyle as you get older, the different activities you can perform, and ways to stay motivated.
Preventing injury and staying healthy
As the human body ages, it generally begins losing bone density and muscle mass. When bones lose density, it increases the likelihood of losing balance, falling, and breaking bones. Combined with a loss of muscle endurance and strength, this also means that you’ll become tired quicker leading to more potential injury. Therefore, regular exercise is crucial for staving off bone and muscle loss while increasing balance and coordination.
Alongside physical degradation, aging people may often experience mental degradations. At the extreme end of the spectrum, Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia may take hold later in life, resulting in a complete loss of independence. The National Institute of Health suggests.) that the average age for developing dementia is around 84 years old. Other comorbidities like strokes often accompany this.
On the less extreme end of things, it’s even more common to develop hearing and eyesight loss, leading to higher chances of injury and detachment from the world. Furthermore, aging people sometimes experience mild cognitive declines resulting in lower mental functioning and decreased hand-eye coordination.
Physical activity comes with several significant benefits for aging populations that can help stave off the above-mentioned ailments. Cardio exercise can reduce the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes while also clearing the mind of depression and anxiety. After all, mental stress can lead to adverse physiological changes in the body. And staying active can help maintain healthy bones and muscles. Overall, exercise will prevent injury and increase your independence as a senior citizen.
Exercising in your older years doesn’t have to be difficult
While it’s common to associate exercise with intense, strenuous activities, it doesn’t necessarily have to be that way. Especially when considering your physical state when you’re older, it’s better to ease into an active lifestyle anyway.
One of the hardest parts about exercise is just getting started. You may feel that your bones are too brittle or that there isn’t enough time given other hobbies or responsibilities. But staying active through exercise doesn’t have to be difficult, and just 30 minutes of exercise a day, or two and a half hours a week, can have lasting benefits.
To start, owning some exercising equipment at home is an excellent way to get used to light physical exertion. Resistance bands are cheap and easy to use and allow for a wide variety of workouts. Small dumbbell weights are suitable too. And if you have the space and funds available, purchasing a cardio machine such as a treadmill can make a huge difference.
Having friends and family nearby who can keep you motivated is helpful too. Not only can they encourage you, but they can also join you during exercises while making sure you don’t injure yourself.
Those living in 55 and over communities have the advantage of convenient access to friends and neighbors who are likely willing to participate in social activities. Senior living communities are often equipped with parks and facilities for the exact purpose of allowing people to come together and stay active.
Make sure to do a combination of aerobic, strength, and balance exercises to capture all of the benefits of an active lifestyle. Water aerobics, walks, and dance classes can help with cardio. Weight-lifting and resistance bands are good for muscle exercises. Taking yoga or martial arts classes, or practicing standing on one foot each day can help with balance and mind.
Again, getting the motivation to do all of these things comes down to a solid support system and a desire to be in the best shape you can be in at any stage of your life. Having activity partners that can hold you accountable is great, and so is educating yourself on the potential ailments that could dampen your quality of life. Moreover, your everyday diet is another factor to consider when optimizing your mental and physical health as you get older.
It’s probably safe to say that just about anyone would like to be independent, strong, and mentally sharp for as long as possible. One of the best ways to acquire these traits is to stay active as you get older. Even if you rarely exercised in the past, there’s no better time to get started than now.