Along with a healthy diet, exercise can be essential to leading a healthier and longer life.(nd3000 | iStock)
It’s hard to get into and stick to an exercise regimen, especially the older we get.
That’s because we encounter more barriers to exercise with age. For example, many older adults aren’t active due to physical barriers such as discomfort, pain, and low energy. There are barriers that are more mental, such as the fear of injury, perceived lack of fitness, or just plain old lack of interest. Socioeconomic factors can also get in the way, such as insufficient funds or fixed incomes. And sometimes we simply just don’t know what or how to do it.
But there are easy and inexpensive ways to get in that bit of exercise that can help you live a healthier, happier, and more energetic life.
This article will explain the benefits of exercise and provide some tips and activities to get anyone in their later years started.
Why Is It Important for Seniors to Exercise?
We lose strength and stamina as we get older, but this is exacerbated in part by a lack of physical activity. What’s more, is that a lack of physical activity can lead to premature aging.
Older adults, both male and female, can obtain significant health benefits from regular physical activity.
In terms of health benefits, exercise can help seniors:
Exercise can reverse aging by awakening muscle stem cells. Studies conducted have shown that tissue regeneration decreases with age and that this is due to a declining function in adult stem cells. Regular exercise restores youthfulness to tissue repair.
There are also mental health benefits to exercise, as it can:
Social Benefits of Exercise
Exercise is key for seniors to maintain the ability to live independently, but socializing is crucial for good health. As we age, many of us are alone more often than when we were younger, leaving us vulnerable to social isolation and loneliness. Exercising with friends or in a group is a great way to socialize and beat loneliness.
Getting Started With Elderly Workouts
There is strong evidence for the effectiveness of aerobic exercises, muscle-strengthening, and balancing exercises in benefiting health.
Aerobic exercise is defined as any type of activity that uses large muscle groups and can be maintained over a period of time. Some aerobic activities include:
Resistance-based strengthening requires muscles to work against a load, which may be an external load or bodyweight that is progressively increased over the time of the program. Some examples of strength exercises are:
Most of the trials of progressive resisted strength training in older adults have high-intensity strength training protocols, most frequently involving 8 to 12 repetitions of the exercise to the point of muscle fatigue. These programs usually involve the support of exercise professionals and are usually based in gymnasiums, as specialist equipment is often used.
The important components for falls prevention effects are exercises that challenge balance and exercises that strengthen lower limb musculature. For community-dwelling older adults, participation in physical activities, such as Tai Chi or individually tailored home exercise programs, can reduce falls in those at risk of falling.
These programs may also help to raise participants’ physical activity levels adequately to improve health by affecting cardiovascular fitness and strength
Tips to Make the Most of Your Exercise Regimen
Older adults should consult with a physician before beginning a new physical activity program.
Previously sedentary older adults who begin physical activity programs should start with short intervals of moderate physical activity (5-10 minutes) and gradually build-up to the desired amount.
Because the risk of injury increases at high levels of physical activity, care should be taken not to engage in excessive amounts of activity.
Here is a more detailed summary of recommendations for exercise for people aged 65 years and older:
To support your ability to exercise and stay healthy, you’ll need to eat a variety of healthy foods to get the nutrients you need. It may also be helpful to take vitamins and nutritional supplements to maintain your health and fitness. Whey protein can be a useful supplement for senior muscle performance. For people ages over 50, there is a key group of recommended vitamins and supplements:
There are also various substances that scientists have identified to have anti-aging properties. Many of these can be taken as supplements by those looking for natural ways to decelerate the aging process and prevent age-related disease.
For seniors looking to get physically fit, there is a class of supplements based on NAD+ precursors that show potential. Nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN) and nicotinamide riboside (NR), which are forms of vitamin B3, are two such compounds that have shown to have anti-aging effects.
While scientists persist in their march towards creating a fountain of youth in pill form, it’s well known that certain lifestyle adjustments can be beneficial. For now, exercise, a healthy diet, and nutritional supplements may be the key to a healthier and longer life. And its never too late to get started, no matter your age.