Maintaining a regular exercise regimen is essential to staying healthy and living a long life. In fact, a study performed by Harvard’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the National Cancer Institute found that the more people exercise, the longer they tend to live. A mere 150 minutes per week of brisk walking can add roughly 3.4 years to one’s lifespan.
However, regular fitness is especially important for the elderly. People in this age group are more prone to accidents and health problems than the younger population, but exercise can significantly reduce these risks. Furthermore, it can help them to maintain their independence and quality of life. Unfortunately, not all types of exercise are suitable for older men and women. As people age, their strength and stamina naturally decline, preventing them from training as rigorously. Regardless, there are still many kinds of exercise that are suitable for the elderly.
Swimming is a gentle, impact-free exercise that is ideal for the elderly. It doesn’t place strain on the joints and can actually improve their flexibility and range of motion. Due to the cool water, this activity may also help reduce joint pain and inflammation. Swimming can also help prevent age-related muscle loss. Because it works nearly all of the muscle groups, including the stabilizing muscles, it may help the elderly maintain the physical strength and balance needed to stay independent.
Another favorable aspect of swimming is its benefit to cardiovascular health. It gives the heart a workout, keeps blood vessels supple and helps clear plaque from the walls of arteries. In addition, swimming increases blood circulation throughout the body. This results in faster healing, reduced inflammation, better digestion and improved cognitive ability.
Many community fitness centers, such as the YMCA, provide swimming activity meets for the elderly. These often focus on water exercises specifically designed for the physical needs of older people and may be free or low-cost.
Walking is an ideal method of exercise for elderly people. It costs nothing, is readily available and can be done by nearly anyone regardless of their health status. Plus, there’s nothing for the spirit quite like fresh air and sunshine. In fact, they’re quite necessary. Exposure to sunshine improves levels of vitamin D, a very important nutrient. The body is unable absorb calcium without it. Furthermore, vitamin D has been shown to be a strong preventer of many cancers. Meanwhile, getting plenty of fresh air can reduce the symptoms of allergies and respiratory illnesses.
Walking also possesses benefits for the muscles. The legs are the largest of the body’s muscle groups, and perhaps one of the most important. By working these muscles, there is a significant anabolic benefit. Metabolism rises, aiding fat loss and muscle growth as well as providing a mood boost. Walking also helps improve the strength of stabilizing muscles in the hips, back, core and ankles, meaning better support and balance. This can go a long way toward preventing the falls and broken hips that are so common in the elderly.
Weight-bearing exercise, even with a small amount of weight, is one of the best exercises that older people can engage in. Challenging the muscles helps to increase functional strength, which is an essential part of staying active and independent. It will also cause hormonal and neurotransmitter increases that enhance mood, improve cognitive function and make one feel more youthful.
Another benefit of strength training is its ability to increase bone density. Any activity that places impact or pressure on the bones causes them to become stronger in response. This can go a long way toward discouraging breaks and fractures, making it safer and easier to stay independent.
Strength training is especially beneficial for aging males. Testosterone levels tend to decline with age, leading to depression, reduced strength, low libido, low energy and fat gain. Low testosterone also carries with it a higher risk of heart disease, prostate cancer and diabetes. Maintaining a regular strength training routine can boost testosterone levels considerably, thus reducing susceptibility to the aforementioned symptoms and risks.
As people age, it’s important to maintain good flexibility and range of motion. This can help prevent muscle strains and torn ligaments as well as joint problems. Fitness practices like yoga, tai chi and qigong are ideal for this purpose. They’re low-impact, easy to learn and can be done in the comfort of your own home. Although the physical purpose of these exercises is to stretch and loosen the muscles and provide a better range of motion, they also carry mood benefits.
The strong focus on the connection between the mind and body, as well as controlled breathing, have been found in studies to reduce stress and enhance feelings of well-being. This can lead to a more positive and healthy attitude, which is known to increase lifespan and reduce the risk of many diseases.
Although physical activity is good for health and function, it’s important for people not to push their physical limitations. Elderly people, particularly those with known health issues, are encouraged to speak with their health care practitioner before starting a fitness regimen.
Nisha represents a site called http://www.mhaauchlochan.org.uk