Aging presents many challenges to individuals striving to maintain physical fitness due to the natural decline in maximal heart rate, lung function, aerobic capacity, etc. Joint injuries, arthritis, and fracture risks may prevent older adults from performing regular physical activity. But according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the loss of strength and stamina attributed to aging is in part caused by reduced physical activity. Exercise is critical for seniors to stay healthy and to reduce the symptoms or reverse the diseases that arrive with old age.
Unfortunately, few older adults reach the recommended level of exercise. Many chronic diseases like heart disease, stroke, diabetes mellitus, lung disease, and hypertension are linked to a lack of exercise among other lifestyle activities. But the opposite is also true. Increased physical activity is associated with an improved quality of life in addition to the reduction in certain health conditions.
Benefits of Physical Activity for the Elderly
- Relieves joint pain
- Decreases symptoms of anxiety and depression
- Helps maintain healthy bones and joints
- Reduces the risks of heart disease
- Helps improve stamina in people with chronic diseases like COPD
- Strengthens bones and muscles reducing the risks of falling
- Reduces risks associated with diabetes
Older adults are different in their abilities and physical limitations. They should exercise according to their level and capabilities. For example, someone who is at a high risk for falling can use a stationary bicycle or exercise while seated. A normally sedentary individual who has never exercised before needs to start off with just a few minutes a day and build up to longer increments to increase his/her stamina.
But physical activity should not be limited to 30 minutes of aerobic activity per day. It should be combined with daily life activities to maintain muscle mass, mobility, and overall strength.
With regular exercise, including at least 30 minutes per day, older adults will feel better mentally, physically, and emotionally. So what are you waiting for?