Only one in four people over the age of 65 exercises regularly. This group tends to be one of the least active age groups around. This makes sense, as we have less energy as we get older and mobility becomes more of a problem.
This is especially true after retirement. Without work, there is less of a reason to be active in certain areas – e.g. walking to work.
However, an active lifestyle becomes even more crucial as we get older. But why do you need to stay active? What are the benefits of exercising as we get older? Let’s find out.
Improves your mood
Exercise is well known to release endorphins, a chemical in the brain that can boost your mood. The exact mechanics behind how exercise can help beat depression and anxiety aren’t fully understood, but working out can definitely ease the symptoms.
Whilst exercising, you’re producing endorphins to help improve your sense of wellbeing, but also taking your own mind off your worries to help escape a cycle of negative thoughts that can often feed depression and anxiety.
Widens your social circle
Exercise can be a very social event that helps you get out and about as you get older. By booking classes that are more likely to be attended by other seniors, you gain a chance to widen your social circle and meet people outside your usual group of friends.
Classes such as water aerobics and tai chi give you the perfect opportunity to be surrounded by likeminded people. If you’re suffering with feelings of loneliness or isolation, the companionship whilst exercising can be just as important as the exercise itself.
Helps improve strength and mobility
As we get older, the body naturally weakens. Muscles no longer work to the best of their ability, and balance starts to decline. All of these factors combined mean that older people start to lose their independence.
By exercising, you work on these factors. You can strengthen your muscles and improve your flexibility, helping to regain some independence. In some cases, set workouts can even help lessen the symptoms of long-term conditions, such as arthritis.
Can prevent falls
By working on your strength and mobility, you’re actively working to improve your muscle strength and bone density – both of which can help you to balance better in the future.
By improving your balance, you’re able to reduce the risk of falls. This study estimates that regular exercise can reduce the risk of having a hip fracture by as much as 40%.
Increases mental capacity
As well as improving your muscle strength, you actually improve the most important muscle of all when you work out – the brain. By working out, you’re actively focusing on what you’re doing and, in doing so, keeping your brain active.
This means that all your diverse brain functions, such as multi-tasking and creativity, are being used. This helps prevent things like memory loss, cognitive decline and dementia. Being active can even help slow the progression of brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s.
Helps you heal
The healing process for our bodies takes longer as we age, but exercise has proven to help improve the entire process. Exercising can actually improve the time it takes for wounds to heal by up to 25%.
This is because exercising stimulates immune activity in the body, specifically producing anti-inflammatory effects that repair muscle tissue.
By exercising – or continuing to exercise – as you get older, you really improve your quality of life long into your golden years. By reducing your risk of falls, and improving your mental health, you help to lead a long, happy life that is full of independence.