Older Adults and Exercise

We are all probably aware that exercise is good for us.  It improves our overall functioning, both physically and mentally.  It not only helps us live longer, healthier lives, but it also goes a long way in keeping us more independent as we age and allowing us to continue to participate in many of the activities that we enjoy.  It improves our mood, and it feels good for our body.  Exercise has found to be an effective treatment for many health concerns such as depression, diabetes, arthritis, and high blood pressure.  It can prevent or delay the onset of other health conditions as well.  And on the opposite end of the spectrum, those who are inactive are twice as likely to suffer from heart disease. They also have a higher risk of hospitalization and are dependent upon more medications than those who remain active throughout their lives. 

It is easy for anyone to make excuses about exercising.  We are too busy, too tired, unmotivated at times.  As we age we have even more excuses at our fingertips.  Aches and pains, lack of stamina, feeling the need to “take it easy”. These things add up and over time a lot of older adults become more inactive as they age, when it is actually a time in our lives that it is more important than ever to stay fit.  There are many moderate endurance activities that are recommended for older adults such as walking, swimming, dancing, tennis, golf, and bicycling. Make your exercise program a priority, and to help with this try to keep it interesting and fun.  Make it a social activity if possible. 

If you have not been active in a long time, start slowly and build up your endurance over time. Talk to your doctor before beginning any new exercise program and ask what is safe for you given any medical conditions, or to learn how to modify certain activities to avoid any problems.  If you smoke, are obese, or diagnosed with any chronic health problems such as heart disease or diabetes, your doctor can give you the best advice on which activities will be the most beneficial to you. Time is precious and we only get one chance at life, make yours the best that it can be! 

Seniors and Exercise

Seniors and Exercise

Are you or a loved one an active independent senior? If so, I’m sure maintaining that independence is important to you. Sometimes a fall can mean crossing that line to becoming disabled. There are many articles and resources available to assist with tips on fall prevention. These are all helpful and important. This article, however,  is to help you think about it a little differently.

Many young people fall, yet are not hurt at all. They do not break hips, back, etc. Why is that? Young peoples bones are dense and muscles are strong. If we do not exercise our bones thin and muscles get weaker. As we age, Osteoporosis and sarcopenia are often the main culprits of this. Most people are familiar with Osteoporosis, it is the thinning of bone tissue and loss of bone density. Its early stages are often without symptoms, yet this disease is, in most cases, preventable. Sarcopenia is a term used to define the loss of muscle and strength that occurs with aging. This too is preventable.

Another common complaint amongst seniors is fatigue. Many have perfectly normal blood work, but still experience unexplained fatigue. Often the fatigue is accepted as old age.      Fatigue such as this is also preventable and reversible.

Many people think that Seniors should take it easy, relax more, and get more rest. Actually the exact opposite is true. The key to stopping and even reversing fatigue, sarcopenia, and even osteoporosis is exercise. Naturally anyone thinking of starting an exercise program would be wise to consult with their Physician first.

Studies have proven over and over again that no matter what your age, exercise is good for you. Even in the very old muscle can be built stronger, and bones made denser. Two forms of exercise are recommended. Aerobic and resistance exercise. If you are just starting out, this can mean walking briskly. It will give you an aerobic workout and plenty of resistance for your muscles. After a few months of daily vigorous walking, you may be ready to visit a trainer or physical therapist for greater challenges and greater rewards.

Strong bones and muscles will make you more sure footed decreasing the chances of falling in the first place. You will have more energy and less fatigue. Regular exercise can also help your blood pressure, insulin sensitivity, cholesterol, body temperature regulation, aerobic capacity, lower body fat, and many more benefits await you. So what are you waiting for, talk to your doctor right away and start exercising!

If you are looking for more information on seniors and exercise you might also like this article:  "Older Adults and Exercise"