As your loved one’s age, it is to be expected that their aches and pains increase. The body is a wonderful thing, and in the first half of our lives we can really put it through its paces. It is understandable when both faced with increased aches and pains, as well as wanting to take it easy in retirement (rightly deserved of course!), that the amount of exercise or physical activity seniors undertake can drastically decrease.
While taking things easier in our later years is a good thing, abstaining from exercise altogether, no matter your age, isn’t good for your health. Therefore, in this article we’ll be discussing some of the great benefits that gentle exercise can give to seniors.
Helps Protect Against Diseases
It has been scientifically proven that regular exercise helps keep the body’s immune system strong. Keeping the immune system strong is of increased concern for seniors, as the older you get, the more your immune system can naturally decrease.
Regular exercise also helps keep the body healthy, greatly reducing the risk of heart disease and diabetes, two common illnesses which can quite drastically reduce your lifespan.
Cares for your Mental Health
Exercise releases endorphins into the brain. Otherwise known as the “happy chemical”, endorphins do wonders for your mood, relieving stress, and increasing satisfaction levels. Exercise has also been linked to a marked improvement in sleep quality, reducing the risk of insomnia and the stress that comes with constant exhaustion.
Loneliness can be a common experience when we reach our senior years, and feelings such as this can have a drastic impact on our mental health, sometimes to the point where it can actually reduce the effectiveness of our immune system. Exercise groups and classes can be a great way for your parent or loved one to meet new people and banish loneliness.
Reduced Risk of Falls
Because exercise helps strengthen your body, if your loved one exercises regularly, they are less likely to experience falls. In the unfortunate case that they do fall, they are more likely to come out of one unscathed, or be able to get up and move on quickly. Exercise such as yoga also increases your awareness of your body, reducing the likelihood of injury from bumping into things or tripping.
Improved Cognitive Function
It has been scientifically proven that regular exercise improves cognitive function through fine-tuned motor skills and general physical movements. In fact, it is widely believed in the medical community that a regular exercise routine can even help prevent dementia and similar cognitive illnesses.
You might be worried that you’ve left it too late to help your loved one start an exercise regime, but there actually isn’t such a thing. No matter when you start exercising, you’re all but guaranteed to experience benefits. If you’re worried that you or your loved one may not be physically able, then consider very gentle exercise options, such as walking, yoga, or swimming. While it might increase their aches and pains when they first start, after a couple of weeks they’re likely to notice these decrease and will feel more energized and happier than before.
Videos and Articles
Here is a link to a playlist with 12 videos on exercising as you age.
Here is an article for step by step stretches and exercises as you age.