As humans age and their bodies change, people often find themselves getting less exercise than they did when they were younger. There are a variety of reasons for this, including decreased mobility, disability, safety concerns, or lack of motivation. However, exercising can actually become more important as you age.
Keeping up an active lifestyle can help increase your energy, independence, and heart health, not to mention the benefits to your mood and memory. If you’ve been avoiding exercise because of foot pain, for example, consider investing in a pair of supportive sandals or sneakers before getting started.
Below you’ll find just some of the many benefits to exercising in your senior years, as well as how to overcome some of the common obstacles.
Positive Effects of Exercise On Your Body
There are a variety of physical benefits that come from exercising as a senior. First, exercise can help you manage your weight. As we grow older, our metabolisms slow down, often leading to weight gain which can negatively impact our health in a variety of ways. Exercise also helps increase strength and flexibility, which can improve mobility and decrease the likelihood of slips and falls.
Finally, increasing your fitness level can decrease the chances of certain diseases and illnesses. Studies have shown that those with a higher level of fitness tend to have a lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s, heart disease, osteoporosis, and more. Following an exercise regimen is one of the best ways to keep your body healthy and extend your years.
Positive Effects of Exercise On Your Mind
The benefits of exercise for seniors extend far beyond just physical health. A workout routine can also improve your mental health, allowing you to live a fulfilling life in your later years. When you exercise, your brain releases endorphins which boost your mood. Many people find that exercising also increases confidence and feelings of accomplishment.
Being active during the day can also help you sleep better at night. Getting quality rest is essential to both your physical and mental health. Finally, becoming more active can help you meet new people, whether it be through fitness classes, gyms, or similar avenues, allowing you to reap the benefits of an active social life.
Common Obstacles for Seniors And How to Beat Them
Anyone who is getting into exercising for the first time is going to have some struggles, whether it be finding the right program, maintaining motivation, or worrying about judgement. Below are a few common concerns about exercising as a senior and how to overcome those challenges.:
If you think you’re too old to begin exercising: If you are getting into exercise for the first time, it can seem like a daunting task. However, it’s actually easier for many seniors to get into fitness for the first time because they don’t have as many preexisting sports injuries that may hinder progress. Starting with a mild program will help you gain the basic skills necessary to progress to more advanced levels.
If you’re worried about a current injury/disability: As previously mentioned, it is important that you find a fitness plan that meets your needs. Many gyms offer a free introductory session when you first sign up. During this session, a trainer can help you understand what options are available to you, including group classes tailored to members with disabilities.
If you’re afraid of sustaining a new injury: Working with a professional will minimize the risk of getting injured during training. Outside of your workouts, you will likely notice increased stamina, flexibility, and balance, all of which can actually alleviate your risk of falling down.
While beginning a new exercise regimen can seem overwhelming, the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks. Check in with your local fitness center or physical therapist for assistance getting started, and enjoy all the advantages geriatric exercise has to offer.
Rae Steinbach is a graduate of Tufts University with a combined International Relations and Chinese degree. After spending time living and working abroad in China, she returned to NYC to pursue her career and continue curating quality content. Rae is passionate about travel, food, and writing (of course).