Exercise and Our Elders

June 4, 2013

A truly balanced lifestyle is one that combines good nutrition, regular physical activity and a healthy mental outlook. We try our best to maintain this balance through our lives even though for many of us it proves difficult. If we can make the effort, however, the pay off is great. Our mood is better, our immune systems are stronger so we don’t get sick as often, we are better able to function at school or our jobs and we tend to live longer, better quality lives. Sounds like a no brainer.

The reality though, is that we tend to become less active as we age (60% of people over age 65 are considered sedentary) and this starts a domino affect of poor health. A more sedentary lifestyle leads to isolation, depression, brittle bones, decreased (or increased) appetite leading to weight loss (or gain). But probably one of the biggest problems is that decreased physical activity can lead to memory problems and cognitive decline.

Recent research has shown the some exercise programs, namely aerobic and weight training, have increased cognitive ability and mobility in some elders. Interestingly, balance and toning exercise program did not show the same positives effects.

A moderate increase in regular aerobic and weight exercise (once or twice a week) can

  • Increase mental capacity
  • Prevent chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, colon cancer and stroke
  • Increase balance which leads to less falling
  • Improve healing
  • And perhaps most importantly, improve quality of life.

The best news is that it is never too late to start exercising. Walking, swimming, biking and weight training are all forms of physical activity that can be done until late in life. Find an activity your elder will enjoy doing on a regular basis even for as little as 10 minutes a day. The health benefits will be immediately noticeable.

 

 

 

 

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