Humans are living longer than ever, requiring more capacity to perform day to day activities.
As we get up in birthdays, independence and function can start to decrease.
This impacts our quality of life, limits participation in social and family activities, and creates more reliance on other people to solve problems and take care of things that we used to be able to do for ourselves.
Recent reports indicate upwards of 70% of adults over the age of 50 years old are either sedentary or have low levels of physical activity.
But it doesn't have to be this way!!
One of the best ways for you to to maintain or increase the quality of your life as you age life is to focus on nutrition, hydration and of course – exercise!
What are the benefits of exercise for older adults?
1. According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), regular exercise can help reduce your risk of heart disease, manage blood sugar and insulin levels, and strengthen your bones and muscles.
2. Exercise also improves cognition and brain health so you can maintain and increase longterm independence.
3. Preserving your muscle mass and strength can help maintain bone density which decreases your risk for falls and prevents fractures.
4. Regular participation in resistance/strength training can also help reduce pain associated with arthritis and poor circulation.
5. Regular aerobic activity can help maintain a healthy heart and can decrease risk for heart disease and Alzheimer’s and dementia.
The benefits of consistent exercise go well beyond the physical.
6. Regular workouts have been shown to trigger the release of certain chemicals that help boost mood, promote relaxation, help with sleep quality/quantity, and reduce stress.
7. Some of the biggest mental benefits of exercise include more energy, increased cognitive functioning, improved memory, an increased sense of well-being – even helping with depression and anxiety.
How much exercise should older adults aim for?
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, older adults should strive to accumulate the following each week:
At least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, like walking, dancing, swimming, rucking, etc.
At least 60 – 90 minutes of resistance training to improve muscle strength and capacity with tools like dumbbells, resistance bands, weighted balls, kettlebells, etc.
At least 30 – 60 minutes of balance focused exercises – which can be done in conjunction with the strength training for double the benefit!
How should I start exercising?
These weekly recommendations can feel intimidating to many older adults, but getting started doesn't need to be complicated.
Whether you're someone who has performed regular exercise most of your life or you haven't exercised at all, with the right assessment and guidance, you can begin a tailored plan that meets your specific needs, helps you reach your lifestyle goals and is something you can sustain long term.
It’s never too late to start exercising and strength training to see benefits in health and quality of life.
Tips for staying active with age:
Set small, reasonable goals that can change as you progress.
Find an activity you enjoy or that you can do with a friend or spouse.
Make exercise a habit and a priority.
Try different types of workouts – you never know when you will find an activity you really enjoy, and switching up from time to time can keep training balanced and exciting.
Work out where you can – that includes outside or even at home!
Ready to start getting back into healthy physical activity?
Getting into a fitness routine isn’t as challenging as most people think – a good program should take into account:
Activities you are currently performing.
Activities you are having trouble with.
Activities you want to get back to doing but have not been able to, or activities you want to be better at.
If you're ready to make physical activity an essential part of your healthy aging plan but aren’t sure how to start – the first step is reaching out to one of our physical therapists for an evaluation.
Together you'll go over your past medical and injury history, assess your current condition, ask questions about your goals, and help design a plan to get you started on the right path!
Our goal is to help improve your confidence in the way you are taking care of your body year after year!
If you're in Memphis, click below to request a free phone consultation to hear more about how we can walk you through a step-by-step plan that will reduce pain, increase confidence, and help you stay active and independent for years to come.