Being physically active has numerous health benefits, whether younger or older. Beyond the key advantages like higher immunity power and improved cardiovascular and bone health, it is even more crucial for senior citizens to exercise, as it helps to control diabetes and reduces the risk of osteoporosis, blood pressure, and many age-related symptoms.
Workouts have various physical and mental benefits, especially during challenging times like dealing with pandemic isolation or age-related disease and chronic illness.
Why should the Elderly be Physically Active?
From enhanced physical strength to evolved mental health, here are a few of the exercise benefits one can gain by being active:-
1. Reduced risk of multiple diseases: Being active boosts immunity and improves cardiovascular and bone strength which in turn prevents heart diseases, risk of diabetes, osteoporosis, blood pressure, and many more.
2. Boosts mental health: Workouts tend to release happy hormones, aka “endorphins”, which aid in boosting one’s mood and confidence. It is a huge stress reliever and can reduce seniors’ risk of Alzheimer’s, depression, and anxiety. It also makes you sleep better and faster, thus making you feel more energetic.
3. Managing Body weight: Regular exercises for weight loss can enhance metabolism and help you maintain a healthy weight. It is essential for better mobility and balance because there is a higher risk of falls and injury as we age. Anaerobic exercises like light weight lifting, controlled HIIT, etc., can help with weight management.
4. Bone health and strength: Aerobic exercises are known to reduce the progress of losing bone density and strength. It can include activities like brisk walking, swimming, jogging, etc., improving bone density, reducing pressure on joints, and preventing osteoporosis.
5. Cardiovascular strength: Mixing cardio exercises with weight training improves your heart muscles and reduces the risk of hypertension and other heart diseases. However, please understand that underlying heart issues cannot be resolved by workout alone.
6. Cognitive function: Regular physical activities tend to aid in improving brain functioning, creativity, and multitasking. It enhances the focus and release of endorphins which helps in preventing age-related diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and so on.
7. Social Wellness: Aerobics workouts like going for a brisk walk, jogging outside, practising yoga, etc., can improve one’s mindfulness. It helps you to meet new people and engage in the community. It reduces the risk of isolation and loneliness in seniors.
Exercise Types: Building Blocks of Fitness
Being physically active and having a balanced diet should be a lifestyle rather than a fad. Finding and mixing the workout types can keep you interested and motivated in the long run. Various exercise types can be practised, pick the one based on your fitness level, and you can build your fitness regime from there.
- Endurance or Aerobics workouts are the ones that can strengthen your endurance by doing workouts that raise your heart and breathing rate over a long duration. It is known to improve stamina, lessen fatigue, and improve your quality of life. People with cardiovascular conditions should consult their doctor before doing fitness activities. It is recommended to start with a 30-minute health regime and then extend it based on your fitness levels.
- Strength training or anaerobic workouts involve bursts of physical activity in a short period. This fitness training can strengthen your muscles and improve mass. These are a few examples of weightlifting, high-intensity training, sprinting, and body weight workouts. Lifting weights and HIIT can improve balance, prevent falls, enhance bone strength, and many more. This is good for people who want to lose fat and maintain their body weight. Exercises for lower back pain and exercises for sciatica are best done with a physical trainer who can guide your shape to prevent injuries and improve strength. It is recommended to be carried out twice a week.
- Balance and Flexibility exercises improve posture, reduce joint pains, and prevent falls and injuries. These can involve yoga, Tai Chi, and stretching exercises to strengthen muscles and bones, making daily activities easier. It is recommended to be done daily to lessen muscle soreness and fatigue.
Steps to Getting Started with the Exercise Cycle
The first and the most important thing before you start any fitness regime is to consult and get clearance from your physician. Understand the exercises and foods to be avoided, safety and precautionary measures to be taken, ongoing health concerns, etc.
Once you start exercising, understand your endurance and fitness level based on the muscle soreness and fatigue levels. However, if you feel extreme tiredness, or pain, or experience shortness of breath, it is necessary to stop the physical activity you’re doing immediately and consult the doctor. The best way to avoid injuries in strength training is to understand the exercise equipment and do the workout in the correct form.
Commit to building strength by slowly building your physical endurance level and understanding your limitations. Please be aware not to compare yourself with another person’s fitness journey. Best to stick with a workout schedule with various forms of physical activities, for example, a day for a brisk walk and a swim in your locale, a day in the gym which includes exercise to reduce belly fat, or any body part strengthening, etc.
Lastly, eat healthy food that contains protein-rich food like chicken, leafy veggies, fish, etc. Avoid red meat and processed food to reduce cravings, and snack on healthy nuts instead.
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Understanding that the benefits of exercise outweigh the obstacles like lockdown, chronic illness, and injury that can come your way is the key to maintaining a healthy fitness routine. Focus on being motivated by keeping short-term goals, and rewarding yourself when you achieve them, can make you happier and healthier. Happy exercising!
What are the benefits of exercise?
Workouts help in improving your physical and mental health. Physical benefits include enhanced bone and heart health, strength, and flexibility, while mental; benefits include improved mood, energy, and reduced risk of memory loss and depression.
What happens if you don’t exercise?
The lack of physical activity can increase the risk of cardiovascular and age-related diseases. It improves cholesterol levels and body weight which can lead to obesity, hypertension, certain types of cancers, and so on.
What are the different types of exercise?
Various exercise types are – Anaerobic workouts, including weight lifting, and HIIT; Aerobic activities, including brisk walking, swimming, hiking, etc.; Stretching and flexibility exercises like yoga, Pilates, Tai chi, and many more.
Are Push-Ups aerobic?
Push-ups can be considered aerobic and anaerobic workouts, depending on the speed and number of sets you are performing.
How do you exercise every day?
Sticking to a workout routine that includes activities you enjoy is the best routine, and it helps to keep you motivated. You can consist of various home workouts, solo outdoor activities like cycling and jogging, or include group classes like Pilates and yoga.