Health benefits enjoyed by older adults on restarting an exercise routine

Updated on Mar 09, 2022 09:57 AM IST

From reducing the likelihood of falling by 23% to reducing the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease or dementia by nearly 50% and more, doctor reveals some of the health benefits of restarting an exercise routine by seniors or older adults

Health benefits enjoyed by older adults on restarting an exercise routine (Photo by Mark Timberlake on Unsplash)
Health benefits enjoyed by older adults on restarting an exercise routine (Photo by Mark Timberlake on Unsplash)
ByZarafshan Shiraz, Delhi

Older adults tend to face issues with balance, reaction time, speed, coordination, strength, agility, range of motion, etc. because muscle mass decreases as we age hence, we tend to lose our independence and our mobility and loss of these abilities can make daily activities challenging while slips and falls are another major concern with aging but a Boston study revealed that exercise can be invigorating and help build muscle mass at any age. Health experts assert that adding an exercise routine to the seniors' daily activity will result in major improvement in building strength, improving flexibility and coordination and consequently decreasing the risks of falls.

Dr Bhavani Swaminathan, Nutrition and Wellness Coach at GetSetUp, explains, “We all know the many good reasons to exercise regularly but for older adults, it is sometimes difficult to just get started. Even when they do, pains and sprains and balance becomes a hindrance for many to continue it daily. Though physical fitness provides benefits at any age, the health perks physically fit seniors enjoy are more notable. Innumerable researches indicate that seniors should remain as active as possible, without overexerting one’s self. In older adults, exercise helps to live a longer, healthier and more joyous life.”

Understanding that exercising alone can be a bit boring for older adults who are not open to the idea or have never tried, Dr Bhavani Swaminathan suggested that there are digital platforms today that offer guided classes by training experts with content designed specifically for older adults. “The best thing about these platforms is that you are not alone,” she said while adding, “Having a friend who can help you stay on routine is a great way to maintain regularity and stay on course to your wellness goals. Humans are social beings and ageing is no reason to lose touch with the world, even in exercising.”

Given that it is easy to get misguided when starting out on exercises on your own as a senior, Dr Bhavani Swaminathan advised to take it slow if you are restarting an exercise routine to ensure your body recognises the new movements and adjusts itself to respond positively. She listed some of the health benefits enjoyed by older adults on restarting an exercise routine.

1. Improves balance

Falling down is a very common problem in older adults. A report by the National Council of Ageing, USA notes, “Every 11 seconds, an older adult is admitted to an emergency room for a fall-related injury and every 19 minutes, a senior dies from a fall.” Though no two falls are alike and preventing falls is quite complex, regular exercise reduces the likelihood of falling by 23%.

2. Improves brain function

One of the most remarkable developments in health science is the revelation that the mind and the body are much more closely linked than we care to think. A healthy body means a healthy mind and seniors who exercise on a regular basis have shown improved cognitive health, according to research from NCBI. A study from the Alzheimer’s Research & Prevention Foundation reveals that regular exercise has shown to reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease or dementia by nearly 50%.

3. Regularity means more energy

Being inactive makes one tired. On the contrary, if you are active, you are more energetic. Any amount of exercise promotes the release of endorphins, which are essential neurotransmitters linked to pain mitigation and a feeling of being happy. Endorphins combat stress hormones, promote healthy sleep and make you feel more lively and energetic. It gives an overall sense of well being. It also reduces the body's stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol thereby helping your body relax.

4. Prevents and counteracts diseases

Heart disease, osteoporosis, depression and diabetes are common among older adults and are often deadly. Adopting an active lifestyle can contribute to prevention of such diseases and reduce the intensity of unpleasant symptoms.

Simple aerobic activity initiates a neurochemical response from the body. It helps burn off calories, lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, maintain joint movement, improve heart health and increase overall energy levels. 

5. Helps in staying happy

A study by the University of Michigan relates exercise to happiness and positive emotions. Exercising is equivalent to investing in an experience. Humans have been known to enjoy experiences better than purchasing material things, which only means that once you start exercising regularly, you will not need an excuse to be unhappy. As important as it is for a healthy mind to balance emotions, exercising for a healthy body too has a directly proportional impact on your state of happiness.

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Tuesday, January 31, 2023
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