The knowledge that exercise is good for you has been with us for an extremely long time, but seniors are often left out of the fitness picture. Interestingly enough, they’re the ones that might benefit from it the most.
Studies have consistently shown that as we age, there is a substantial decrease in the brain tissue density that is responsible for thinking and memory. While this decrease is a result of aging, the studies have also consistently proven that individuals who keep up with their cardiovascular fitness always have the least amount of tissue loss.
The studies don’t just stop at visuals of the brain tissue, but have also extended into practical tests of mental abilities. Researchers have found that exercise for seniors makes it easier to coordinate, schedule and plan their day, and increases the capacity to remember things better. Along with all these benefits, it was found that the incidences of dementia had fallen dramatically in those who did any form of cardio at least three times per week, plus adults fell asleep more restfully and stayed asleep longer!
Outside of mental health, exercise does wonders for seniors’ bodies. Strength training helps build up muscles to keep up strength, but also makes your joints stable and less prone to injury. In addition, it stresses your bones, makes them stronger and less susceptible to breakage, while reducing the risk of osteoporosis.
Advance age also brings down metabolism, which means glucose can build up faster and Type 2 diabetes is more likely to form. Fortunately, working out helps bring up that metabolism and puts you at a lesser risk. While all of this seems as though it’ll be a life saver, keep in mind that working out too much is just as bad as not working out enough. It will put your body under an immense amount of stress and cause a whole slew of different issues.
So how much exercise for seniors is needed to make a difference? Science suggests that adults only need 30 minutes of moderate aerobic activity five days a week, or 30 minutes of intense aerobic activity three days a week. On top of that, strength training should be practiced at least two consecutive days in a row with a few exercises for balance or flexibility thrown in. It might seem like a lot, but an hour or so out of your day means a healthier, more confident, more comfortable lifestyle. But remember to start off these regiments with a light workout at first. Moving quickly into a routine that’s above your current abilities may be painful, cause injury, or discourage you because of the difficulty.
Clear your exercise routine with your doctor before attempting to do any strenuous activity and assess any physical problems that you may have to work around in your quest for fitness. Once you’ve got that out of the way, ask your local gym or YMCA about senior membership discounts, or even how much it would be to have a personal trainer once or twice a week. Every day could be spent ensuring a better future.
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