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Why Older Adults Need More Exercise

What can be done to change inactivity among older adults?

older men running
Image by misign on Pixabay

When you get older your body starts to get weaker, not because of your age but your inactivity. One in three men and one in two women engage in no physical activity by the age of 75. The loss of strength and stamina attributed to aging is in part caused by inactivity.

Physical Activity

It need not be strenuous to benefit for physical activity. Moderate amounts of physical activity daily, if possible, can have a great impact on your health. There are many activities that you can do but walking and gardening or yard work are, by far, the most popular physical activities.

Always start with short activities (5-15 minutes) and build up from there. Never try to overdo any activity or you may risk injuring yourself. Once you have established a baseline for yourself you can slowly improve over time.

A few activities beneficial to older adults.

  • Walking is a great place to start. All it requires is a comfortable pair of walking shoes. It can be done anywhere by yourself or with someone.
  • Fitness Classes are a source of fun and stress relief. Also, a great place to make new friends. I recommend Zumba Gold.
  • Water activities are a great way to loosen up your joint and helps reduce stress and pain. You can go for a swim or just walk around the pool for a great workout.
  • Yoga can help improve strength, flexibility, and balance. It can also be a great way to reduce stress.

It is up to you to find the activity that best suits you. Each one of these activities can help strengthen your muscles which help the reduce falling and improves the performance of daily tasks.

Benefits

Physical activity can have many benefits for older adults. Some can also be very beneficial to your physical and mental health. Here are some of the benefits that can happen.

  • Helps maintain the ability to live independently and reduces the risk of falling and fracturing bones.
  • Reduces the risk of coronary heart disease and of developing high blood pressure, colon cancer, and diabetes.
  • Can help reduce blood pressure.
  • Helps people with chronic, disabling conditions improve muscle strength and overall stamina.
  • Reduces symptoms of anxiety and depression.
  • Helps maintain healthy bones, muscles, and joints.
  • Helps control joint swelling and pain in joints.

All of the benefits above are possibilities. It might not be the case for everyone. But the good news is that having physical activity more regularly will have benefits and improve your overall health.

Are there risks with increased physical activity among older adults?

Risks & Precautions

Discomfort and pain are common with anyone that works out. But the older you get the more at risk you are towards injury. What you might have been able to do when just a few years younger you might not be able to do now.

As with any new physical activity you are doing, older people should consult a physician before beginning them. This will help prevent any serious injuries that may occur when performing new physical activities.

As a precaution, after visiting your physician, you should have the appropriate equipment, assisted devices, and supervision before you start your physical activity.

If what you are doing is too hard on your joints you may want to try water aerobics to lessen joint impact and still get the heart pumping.

Getting Started & Staying Motivated

Starting any activity as you get older has its risks and rewards, but it’s important to do it safely.

Listen to your physician

This is important so that you don’t cause serious injury. Your doctor has your best interest and doesn’t want to see you get hurt. Please listen to what they have to say.

Start Slow

Never go into any activity fast or recklessly. Little by little will give you the best results and keep you in the game. Go into it too fast and you might injure yourself. Some helpful tips would be to space out your activities. You can take 5 to 10-minute breaks between activities. Or just do one activity a day or each week. There is no rush. Once you are accustomed to the activity, maybe increase the frequency or length a little.

Commit to an Exercise Schedule

Having a schedule to commit to is a great way to keep you motivated and focused. Maybe even schedule some of your exercise with a group of people/friends.

Support

Working out with a friend, family member or a group of people that share the same interest, can be a great source of encouragement and motivation. Group lessons can be very beneficial in achieving your goals.

Short-term goals

Having short-term goals helps keep you motivated because you can see them, rather than long term goals. Improving your mood and energy levels are great short-term goals.

We went over important areas to concern yourself with when thinking about becoming more active at an older age. But the most important areas to keep mindful of are to check with your physician and take it slow. As long as you can do that and choose an activity that you enjoy, you will start to become healthier in no time. I wish you luck and stay safe.

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