The Importance Of Exercise For The Elderly [Physical and Mental]

Certified Senior Advisor (CSA)®
Assistive Technology Professional
Updated:

Exercise if important for seniors and the elderly because it improves cognition, promotes social engagement, improves mental health, and ever reduces the risks from falling.

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Is it necessary for seniors to exercise? And just how much exercise do the seniors require?

Exercise is a vital aspect of leading a healthy life, especially as you grow older. According to CDC, frequent physical activity is one of the crucial things a senior can do for their health as it can prevent most of the health problems that often come with age. Exercising may also strengthen your muscles, meaning you may not need to rely on your caregivers as much for help.

Are you a senior or a caregiver looking after a senior? If so, read on to find out the importance of exercises for seniors and how they can benefit from exercises.

Advantages Of Exercises For Seniors

There are multiple benefits of exercise for seniors. Overall, regular physical activity impacts your physical health positively. Likewise, it also affects your emotional and mental wellbeing, ensuring that you live a less sedentary life.

Here are the advantages of exercise for seniors.

Improves cognitive function

Fine-tuned motor skills and indulging in frequent physical activity significantly benefit cognitive function. It is never too late to start indulging in physical activity, and the best part is the exercises do not have to be complex. Exercises can be a simple leisure activities like taking a walk or swimming.

Promotes social engagement

Exercise for seniors does not have to be dull and intense. On the contrary, you can make exercise fun and turn it into a social engagement. Besides, social engagement is a vital aspect for seniors as it gives them a sense of purpose, and the exercise does not feel like a chore. The activity can range from fitness clubs to walking groups.

Reduces the risks of falling

Exercise can significantly strengthen the muscles, improving seniors’ coordination and promoting better balance and flexibility. This reduces the risk of falling and ensures that seniors can be more dependent on themselves. Note that it takes longer periods for a senior to recover from a fall.

Improves mental health

Partaking in exercises has various mental health benefits for older adults. When you exercise, the body produces endorphins, which leave you feeling happy and serve as a stress reliever. Exercising is also associated with improving sleep quality. This is great, especially for individuals who have insomnia.

Exercises That Seniors Can Do

There are different exercises that seniors can do, but they should partake in flexibility or stretching exercises, resistance or strength training, and aerobic exercises. It will be best to avoid high-intensity exercises as they are not practical or safe for most seniors.

Here are some exercises seniors can do to improve their coordination, balance, mobility, and strength.

Strength and resistance training

Strength training exercises help build muscle and are often done repetitively. It will be best to do resistance and strength training exercises two to three times weekly, focusing on all the muscle groups.

Strength training exercises include resistance bands, light hand weights, single-leg stands, sit-ups, wall sits, squats, stair climbing, and wall push-ups.

Aerobics

Aerobics help add endurance to the body and significantly improve cardiovascular function. 30-minute per day of aerobic exercises is the recommended amount, but beginners can spread this out into 10-minute sessions throughout the day.

Examples of aerobic exercises include swimming, walking, cycling, and jogging. If one has any injuries, it will be best to start with low-impact exercises like swimming.

Yoga

Yoga is also a great exercise choice for seniors as it does not strain or hurt their joints. Yoga helps strengthen the bones, improves flexibility, stabilizes the core, and builds muscle. There are even yoga routines that can be performed in bed or while in a chair.

Should Seniors Exercise?

While everyone should exercise, all seniors must incorporate exercise into their lives, including those with mobility problems and chronic pain. However, it is vital to consult with a healthcare provider before a senior starts exercising. Consulting ensures that one does the appropriate exercises based on their health condition.

Summary

Senior adults need to exercise as it benefits their physical, emotional, and mental wellbeing. Remember to ease into the exercises, especially if there are pre-existing health conditions or the likelihood of an injury.

It would be best to let a healthcare provider know if you are experiencing any symptoms like chest pain or shortness of breath. If you are the primary caregiver to a senior, ensure you encourage them to exercise as it is beneficial to their overall health and wellbeing.

Sources:

Certified Senior Advisor (CSA)®
Assistive Technology Professional

Scott Grant has spent more than 20 years serving seniors and the elderly in the home medical equipment industry. He has worked as a manufacturer's rep for the top medical equipment companies and a custom wheelchair specialist at a durable medical equipment (DME) provider in WV. He is father to 4 beautiful daughters and has three terrific grandkids. When not promoting better living for older adults, he enjoys outdoor activities including hiking and kayaking and early morning runs.

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