Physical and mental benefits of fitness for older adults
Beyond New Year’s Resolutions: Benefits of Fitness
As we approach the beginning of the year, people of all ages will promise themselves to make healthier choices in the future. A common resolution is to exercise more regularly. This commitment to fitness is healthy for everyone but may be especially important for older adults. Creating a routine of attending senior fitness classes and investing in personal care can increase your quality of life and potentially help you live longer.
Forward-thinking retirement communities prioritize exercise for senior living residents. They design specially tailored senior fitness programs to capture all the benefits regular exercise can offer. We’ve outlined several advantages of senior fitness so you can pursue your goals with purpose and enthusiasm.
Prevent Chronic Conditions
Studies by the National Institute on Aging and the National Institutes of Health report that fitness for older adults can help prevent or delay heart disease, cancer, stroke, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, osteoporosis and diabetes. Even moderate exercise can help lower your risk for these chronic conditions.
Improve Mental Health
The connection between fitness and mental health is strong but often overlooked. Exercise releases endorphins, hormones that interact with receptors in the brain to reduce your perceived level of pain and generate positive feelings and improved outlook.
Thanks to endorphin production, exercise is a key component to personal care. Sticking to a regular senior fitness program can reduce stress, temper anxiety and depression, bolster self-esteem, and improve quality of sleep. Group senior fitness classes provide the added mental health benefit of socialization, which has also been linked to a reduced risk of depression and anxiety, and improvements in self-image.
Build Strength and Endurance
Senior fitness directly influences quality of life and your ability to remain independent. As the health of your heart and lungs improves with exercise, you’ll experience increased energy levels, giving you the stamina to do more of what you enjoy.
Falls are the most common causes of injury among older adults, but stronger muscles and improved balance dramatically reduce your risk of falls. Ultimately, higher energy levels and a lower chance of falling are benefits of fitness that keep you independent longer.
Tips to Overcome Barriers
- Grab a Buddy: Working out with another person or a group of people helps keep you motivated. It’s harder to put fitness on the back burner when someone else is expecting you.
- Keep It Fun: Don’t force yourself to do exercises you don’t enjoy, and if you’re growing tired of your regular workout, switch it up. You could try senior yoga classes, tai chi for seniors, swimming, pickleball, cycling, dancing — the list goes on. Find activities that interest you. The variety of programming provided in a community makes it easy to incorporate different types of exercise for senior living residents.
- Find Your Moments: Even if you’re constantly on the go, you can find daily opportunities to improve your fitness. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, park farther away from your destination and walk, go down a few extra aisles in the grocery store, dance while you’re getting ready in the morning. Several small steps can add up to noticeable improvements in fitness for older adults.
- Be Kind to Yourself: Don’t dwell on a lapse in your routine or a temporary interruption. Start again and be proud of yourself for renewing your commitment to better fitness and mental health.
Tips if You’re Just Starting to Exercise
- Talk with Your Doctor: Reach out to your doctor to discuss preexisting conditions, and get their advice on what sort of workouts or exercise classes for seniors might be right for you.
- Start Slowly: Begin with activities you know you can accomplish now, even if it’s just a five-minute walk. Jumping into senior fitness workouts you haven’t trained for makes you vulnerable to injury. Plus, pushing yourself too hard — to the point of pain — may lead you to abandon your goals. Start wherever you are and build strength and endurance.
- Select the Right Equipment: Following this advice could be as simple as finding quality, supportive footwear. As your exercise goals grow, you may want to invest in a fitness tracker to give you more comprehensive feedback on your daily steps, activity level and heart rate.
At Laurel Circle, we prioritize the well-being and independence of our residents. If you’d like to find out more about our holistic fitness and wellness programing or if you’d like to stop by to see an exercise class or take a tour, we’d love to host you. Leave us a note on our contact page.