In this day and age when youth culture is prominent, the gnawing sense of irrelevance grows more and more real as you age. As aging adults shift their roles from workaholic, hands-on parents to empty nesters and retirees, it is not far from reality that their sense of self-worth and identity may suffer.
Nonetheless, just like with any other problem, there is always a solution. One way for older adults to combat this sense of irrelevance and invisibility is an active lifestyle. Being active leads to more social engagements, which further promotes motivation and a greater sense of purpose.
It Is Never Too Late to Start an Active Lifestyle
The common myth that aging individuals should have lesser physical activity is not true, and so is the belief that it is difficult to start an active lifestyle once you are older. No matter what your age is, your body responds to any form of exercise.
The World Health Organization Guidelines state that older adults, those aged 65 years and above, have more to gain from exercising.
As you get older, your body undergoes physical decline. You experience a range of health problems, including cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, mood disorders, and flexibility and mobility problems.
A common reason for the physical decline is the lack of physical activity. Thus, doing minimal physical activity is better than doing none.
How Seniors Benefit From Leading an Active Lifestyle
They Have More to Gain
Older adults usually lead a more sedentary lifestyle; they are more reliant on their family or a health aide at home. They experience several chronic pains and are on daily medications.
But incorporating exercise into their daily routine could make a huge difference. Even if it is just a 10-minute exercise, it still counts. Older adults get to enjoy not only physical benefits but psychological and emotional benefits as well.
You may start with something simple like a daily stroll and some stretching and increase the duration or try something more challenging later on.
It Improves Strength and Balance
Older adults, especially those aged 65 and above, are more likely to fall over due to muscle strength decline. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 36 million older adults fall each year, and this resulted in over 32,000 deaths per year.
Furthermore, a lot of older adults over the age of 60 have Parkinson’s disease. By leading an active and healthy lifestyle, elderly individuals with this condition can help minimize, if not prevent, its impact. Otherwise, those patients that stay inactive have to suffer the irreversible impact of this disease.
It is only natural to lose muscle strength as we grow older, but it does not mean it is not preventable. Regular exercises involving balance and weight-bearing routines could help build back your muscle strength. This includes tandem standing, heel raises, hip abduction, and even carrying shopping bags.
Helps Manage Body Weight
Apart from the loss of muscle strength, our metabolism slows down as we age. It is not surprising that as we grow older, we gain more weight and losing them or maintaining your body weight is much harder.
A lot of diseases, particularly diabetes and cardiovascular problems, are associated with carrying too much body fat. But with regular exercise, you burn down these extra fats while increasing your muscle mass and speeding your metabolism.
With these positive physiological changes, older adults can maintain appropriate body mass index (BMI).
Boosts Positive Mental Health
Leading an active lifestyle fosters positive mental health. When we exercise, our brain triggers our glands to produce endorphins, which is dubbed to be our body’s natural painkiller and mood booster. At the same time, adrenaline and cortisol, which are linked with anxiety and stress, are flushed out from our bodies.
This close interrelation between our body and brain also means that the more seniors exercise, the healthier their brains are. Not only could regular exercise ward off depression and other mental health concerns, but it also helps lessen the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and dementia by almost 50 percent.
Promotes Better Sleep
The more active older adults are, the better their sleep is. Leading a sedentary lifestyle tends to cause problems getting quality sleep at night. By adding aerobic exercise to your daily routine, your brain stays refreshed and rejuvenated, promoting better and deeper sleep. Encourage your elderly loved one to at least exercise three hours before bed as this promotes good quality sleep.
Older adults spend at least ten hours, on average, a day lying or sitting down. With stay-at-home orders in place, this number has gone up higher. With these tips, hopefully, your senior loved one would find more reasons to stay active and fit in their golden years.