Why Exercising is so Crucial for Seniors
For years, conventional thought about the benefits of exercise consisted of having a healthier heart, stronger bones, and improved appearance and flexibility. However, exercising has many more physical and mental benefits, especially for seniors.
As people age, many associate increased soreness and inflexibility with the natural aging process. Dr. John Montgomery, a medical epidemiologist and vice-president of Senior Care Solutions with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida, dispels this theory. Dr. Montgomery maintains that “Many characteristics we associate with older age — like the inability to walk long distances, climb stairs, or carry groceries, are largely due to a lack of physical activity.” Dr. Montgomery also suggests that seniors associate exercise with strenuous activities that they may not be capable of doing. What these seniors do not realize is that it could be more of a health risk not to exercise.
The benefits of exercise for seniors are so immense that the Centers for Disease Control reports that seniors have even more to gain than younger people by becoming more active because they are at higher risk for the health problems that physical activity can prevent.
One benefit that directly results from exercising is an increased mental capacity. Research links physical activity with slower mental decay. Exercise increases blood flow to all parts of your body, including your brain, and might promote cell growth. Exercising early and maintaining a disciplined regimen over time can be beneficial in preventing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Exercise may delay or prevent many diseases associated with aging, such as diabetes, colon cancer, heart disease, stroke, and others, and may reduce overall death and hospitalization rates, according to the National Institute of Aging. Injuries and wounds take longer to heal as people age. Regular exercise by seniors may speed up the wound-healing process by as much as 25% (Source: Senior Journal.com).
It is also important to note that it is never too late to start exercising. According to the National Institute of Aging, exercise isn’t just for seniors in the younger age range. People who are 80, 90 or older can also benefit greatly from physical activity. Overall, Dr. Montgomery stresses the importance of creating attainable goals and staying disciplined to the regimen stating, “The key is to find something geared to your fitness level that you enjoy doing, and it’s important to start at a level you can manage and work your way up slowly.”