Senior fitness provides a huge variety of health benefits including physical, cognitive, and social. As our bodies age, they change, and we face different health challenges. This is why it’s even more important to put that little extra effort into keeping active as we get older.
If you’re looking for ways to incorporate exercise into your life, and are keen to know the benefits of senior fitness, then read on. We’ll break down the benefits and show you how to enjoy a fit and healthy retirement.
Why is senior fitness so important?
Keeping fit and healthy in your later years through exercise is one of the most important things you can do for both your physical health and wellbeing.
As well as preventing or delaying the common health issues that come with age, and helping prevent physical injuries, regular exercise can also give you a new lease of life and even help you make new friends. Creating a strong and able body will help you to enjoy a long and healthy retirement for years to come.
Physical activity doesn’t need to be strenuous to achieve health benefits and, according to the NHS, older adults should aim to be physically active every day, even if it’s just light activity. They recommend activities that improve strength, balance, and flexibility to see the full benefits. This means partaking in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity a week, or 75 minutes of more vigorous activity (this option is best if you’re already active).
To give you an idea of what is considered light activity, here are some suggestions:
- Reducing the amount of time you’re sitting down by walking around the house more
- Going for regular walks at a slow pace
- Spending time doing housework such as cleaning and vacuuming
- Doing light gardening work
Now, here are some moderate-intensity activities for senior fitness:
- Going for slightly longer regular walks (instead of driving or catching the bus)
- Doing water aerobics
- Joining in with a dance class for all abilities
- Playing tennis or any other sport you enjoy
- Taking part in a yoga or pilates class
And finally, here are some suggestions for vigorous-intensity activities:
- Running or jogging
- Walking uphill
- Bike riding on hills
- Singles tennis
Both moderate and vigorous activities will raise your heart rate, make you breathe faster, and make you feel warmer. If you’re not sure which type of exercise is best for you, speak to your doctor for their advice.
How to enjoy a healthy retirement
A healthy retirement means having the strength and mental wellbeing to continue living the lifestyle you enjoy.
Keeping fit through regular exercise provides a plethora of health benefits that extend beyond the most obvious, including improvements in neurocognitive function, and improvements in osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, heart health, diabetes, and blood pressure.
10 benefits of exercise for seniors
Here are our top 10 benefits of keeping fit and healthy in your senior years.
1. Manage body weight
One of the most obvious benefits of regular exercise (at any age) is that it helps to maintain or lose body weight while increasing muscle strength and mass.
As we age, our metabolism naturally slows down, which can make it harder to lose weight. This is why the importance of keeping fit increases as we get older. Adding exercises such as strength training and cardio will develop your muscle mass, increase your metabolism, and burn more calories, promoting weight loss.
2. Cardiovascular health
According to the National Library of Medicine, regular aerobic activity can reduce your risk of coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, or stroke by as much as 62%.
This is because it strengthens your muscles, increasing their ability to use oxygen. This in turn leads to a healthier heart and allows it to pump blood more efficiently. On top of that, regular exercise can lower bad cholesterol and raise good cholesterol.
3. Prevents bone loss
As we age, we lose bone density, which can put us at risk for fractures and injuries. Strength training can not only help counteract this loss and restore bone density, but improve balance, reducing the risk of falls and injuries. Helping you to live independently for longer.
4. Improves mood
Exercise boosts endorphins and helps us to feel good. It can also help ease anxiety and depression symptoms, increase relaxation and create a sense of wellbeing.
Studies have shown that the mood-boosting benefits of exercise continue well into old age, further emphasising the importance of staying active as we get older.
5. Maintaining independent living
This is such an important benefit of exercise as we get older. Many seniors would like to continue to live independently, either in their own homes or within an independent retirement community, and maintaining an active lifestyle and keeping fit can help with this.
6. Cognitive function
Dementia affects many older adults, and some studies have suggested that regular exercise is a way to help reduce the incidence of the disease.
Furthermore, there is evidence that exercise can help improve brain function by 15%, as it reduces inflammation of the brain, improves blood flow, and promotes new brain cell growth.
7. Social life
Making new friends is great no matter what age you are. But, as we get older, the opportunities to form new friendships and relationships can decrease.
By joining an exercise class or a walking group, you can meet new friends and form bonds to make your retirement years even more fun and fulfilling.
8. Improve sleep quality
Regular exercise can have a profound impact on the quality of your sleep. A study from the National Library of Medicine showed that older adults who exercise regularly tend to sleep better than those who don’t. And consistent exercise can even help those who suffer from insomnia, helping them to fall asleep quicker and stay asleep for longer.
9. Helps with flexibility
Osteoarthritic pain can be a significant challenge for many older adults, as, when we age, our joints and muscles naturally become stiffer and less mobile. Maintaining movement in the muscles and joints can help decrease discomfort and increase flexibility, making pain easier to manage.
10. Reduce the risk of disease
Regular exercise is beneficial in reducing the risk of developing a range of chronic diseases including stroke, cancer, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. As older people are more susceptible to these diseases, it’s even more important to add exercise to your lifestyle.
Keep fit and healthy at Santhem Residences
At Santhem Residences, we understand the importance of senior fitness. This is why we have a health & wellbeing suite which provides unlimited access to a gym, sauna and steam room for our homeowners.
To find out more, give our friendly team a call today to discuss how you can enjoy a happy and healthy retirement in our luxurious retirement village.