Our modern society has become very good at keeping people alive. Over the past few decades the life expectancy in developed countries as increased significantly. It has only been recently that we have recognized that longer life does not necessarily equate to better life. Quality of life as we age is an important consideration.
More and more we are realizing the benefits of physical activity and exercise as we age. It used to be common belief that as we aged we should do less physical activity for fear or injuring or wearing out our aging bodies. We now know that continuing to exercise as we age has major health benefits.
Regular exercise helps us to maintain muscle mass, bone density and helps stave off the muscle wasting we used to think was just a natural part of aging. It helps to improve body mass composition by increasing lean mass and reducing fat stores.
Exercise can improve flexibility and help maintain range of motion, two things that typically diminish as we age. I have observed that many older adults who stopped exercising at some point are surprised by how quickly they can regain movement through a simple exercise routine. In many cases these people didn’t even realize how much movement they had lost until they start to regain it.
With improved mobility comes a lower risk of injury and improved balance. Falling is a major cause of injury in older adults. Maintaining good balance helps to prevent age related falling risk.
Maintaining a regular exercise routine improves our immune system which will help prevent many of the diseases associated with age. Regular physical activity has been shown to prevent cardiovascular disease, heart attack and stroke, diabetes, and some forms of cancer. These are all diseases commonly associated with aging.
Regular exercise also helps to maintain mental health and cognitive function. Among its many benefits exercise improves circulation, providing the brain with an increased supply of oxygen and other nutrients. With improved brain function come improvements in emotional, psychological and social well being. Regular exercise has ben shown to reduce cognitive decline, dementia, and depression in older adults.
The benefits of exercise as we age are many and difficult to ignore. Many older adults do, however, find it challenging to maintain a high level of physical activity as they get older and their lifestyles change. In many cases these people would benefit from some outside help. Joining a group or team can give you the motivation to exercise regularly. Teaming up with a coach can provide that necessary nudge towards a healthier lifestyle. Whatever it takes, maintaining an active lifestyle with regular exercise is an important part of living a long, quality life.
If you would like to discuss ways to maintain a physically active lifestyle or would like the help of an experienced coach give me a call.