We hear it all the time: keeping fit is good for your health, and exercising regularly is crucial for a healthy body and mind. However, staying fit is not about vanity, but rather a necessity that must be incorporated into your lifestyle, especially as you age. Countless studies prove physical activity and an active lifestyle result in plenty of benefits as we age.
Keeping fit and healthy as we age can prevent the onset of many health problems that come with age, such as heart disease, brittle bones, obesity or diabetes.
Incorporating exercise into our routine each day, even as we age, ensures that our muscles and bones stay as strong and healthy as possible. This is pertinent for mobility and carrying out everyday tasks. We need strong bones, healthy joints and working muscles so that we can keep doing our daily activities without becoming reliant or dependent on others.
By keeping fit as we age, we maintain our independence and maintain a higher quality of life. As we age, enjoying our freedom and independence is vital to increasing our overall happiness. Below are some of the key benefits of maintaining a consistent physical fitness regimen for ageing adults.
Prevent the Onset of Chronic Illness
Studies have proven that consistent physical activity helps prevent the onset of common diseases and health issues associated with old age. For example, working out can keep the following health conditions at bay: hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol, thyroid problems, and heart problems.
Exercise improves the body’s metabolic function, promotes cardiac health, and ensures proper blood circulation. This means we continue to burn fats and calories efficiently, reducing the risk of obesity. In addition, improving our lymphatic circulation also carries oxygenated blood more efficiently into all our cells, mitigating oxidative stress and cellular damage.
Most of all, engaging in regular exercise will improve immune function. This is vital as we age, because our immune system is compromised and responds slower the older we become. Even simple exercise like slow-paced walks is a powerful ally in preventing disease onset and managing diagnosed co-morbidities.
Improve Physical Health, Mobility and Range-of-Motion
Regular exercise improves our overall physical health because we maintain a healthy weight and a good range of motion. Excellent physical health improves overall mobility. If our bodies are used to the movement, we can keep on doing a full range of motion without any issues. To illustrate, if you are used to doing inversions, you can still carry on with your yoga practice even if you are past your 60s.
Increasing our heart rate with cardio and challenging our muscles with weights also ensure our heart stays healthy and strong. Consequently, this also affects our lung power because it means we can perform our usual activities without feeling easily winded or tired.
Unfortunately, as we age, our muscle mass naturally begins to decrease. For example, a Harvard study noted that when people enter their 40s, they lose 3 to 5% of muscle mass with each subsequent decade. However, maintaining regular strength and cardio training will slow down muscle degeneration and combat this problem.
We must all keep in mind that muscles support our bones and contribute to their strength. Strong bones and muscles assist in maintaining our balance and keeping us agile so we don’t compromise our mobility and independence. Thus, we need exercise in our lives to assure we can keep on doing what we love and enjoy.
Reduce Risk of Injuries and Keep Bones Healthy
A decrease in muscle mass associated with ageing increases your chances of succumbing to injuries. For starters, muscle loss results in poor balance, lack of stability, and deteriorating coordination.
On top of that, as we become older, our bones naturally become more brittle. More so if you have a family history of osteoporosis. Your bone density is compromised if you don’t have sufficient calcium and other mineral stores in the body, and bone density is more difficult to maintain as you age.
With all these elements combined, we become more prone to injuries such as bone fractures as we age. This is compounded by the fact that older people take a much longer time to recover from illness due to a decline in cell regeneration, poor wound healing, and reduced immune system function.
Thus, we must do everything in our power to prevent these falls in the first place. Keeping fit helps improve balance, strength, and more which helps prevent falls. If we continuously engage in exercise, we also improve our agility and flexibility. In turn, this positively influences our muscle coordination and balance, reducing our risk of falling and injuring ourselves.
Keeping Fit Improves Mental Health
Aging adults, especially those in their twilight years who are retired, often suffer from depression. This can be exacerbated if you’re too sedentary. Illnesses such as dementia or hypertension can make anyone feel mentally unwell. After all, it doesn’t feel good when your body and mind isn’t what it used to be. The loss of independence and social isolation can also cause mental health issues.
Elderly people often spend more time alone, especially empty-nesters. Research shows that social isolation in older adults increases loneliness and triggers depression. If you want to take control of these negative emotions, keeping fit and exercising will help because it releases endorphins, aka the “happy hormone” or feel-good hormones. The brain secretes these during our workouts, which helps alleviate stress, promote happy feelings, and trigger a sense of satisfaction.
On top of that, exercise is known to help improve sleep, which is important for older people who suffer from disrupted sleep patterns. As we age, the body produces lower growth hormone levels, which impacts the sleep cycle. As a result, we produce less melatonin and experience fragmented sleep. Thankfully, we can fight this problem and get a better shot at good rest if we’re exercising daily.
Improved Quality of Life and Better Life Expectancy
Studies indicate that older people who stay physically fit improve their physical wellness and often live longer because of it. Moreover, those who maintain workout routines experience psychological benefits, too. Exercise is a guaranteed mood booster that perks people up, no matter the age.
Regular physical activity will also fine-tune our motor skills and amplify our cognitive function. In addition, many studies show that people who exercise lower their risk of dementia. Thus, we must find an activity that we enjoy so we can consistently perform our workouts on a long-term basis.
Low-impact exercises such as a low impact water aerobics class or even a walking group promote socialization. Doing something that allows you to participate with others is akin to hitting two birds with one stone. You get to exercise while maintaining social ties to your community. Being around others will help you not just survive but thrive as you grow older.
Exercise improves our quality of life because we can stay fit, mobile, independent, and highly functional despite our age. As a result, we can continue doing what we love and not lose our identities or our independence. This provides us with a sense of purpose, allows us to stay motivated, and helps minimize the loneliness that usually sets in when people retire.
If you still don’t have an exercise routine, it is a good idea to start one because you will reap the benefits of keeping fit no matter when you begin your routine. It is never too late for anyone to improve their physical fitness, even seniors. Start a fitness journey today, and remember, consistency is more crucial than intensity. Simply start with a solid routine on a level that’s easy for you to maintain and commit to doing. As mentioned previously, you can start with low-impact exercises such as water aerobics.
Before you begin any physical fitness programs, it is wise to consult with your doctor. You can also receive information about the optimal fitness program for you, based on your genetics and how prone you are to injuries. A fitness profile based on your DNA can be provided to you by CircleDNA. Regardless of age, everyone should incorporate exercise into their daily routine because health is the true measure of wealth, and it’s undeniable how much exercise can improve health.