Physical Activity for Seniors

Physical Activity for Seniors

Aging, as we know, is a natural part of life, but it’s not necessarily something that has to hold us back. Though it comes with some certainties, it’s entirely possible to age gracefully and remain strong and healthy into our later years. Many adults, however, view aging as restrictive and often cut back on physical activity out of fear of injuring themselves or simply not being able to perform as they used to. While this may be the truth for some, the fact remains that physical activity and regular exercise are actually some of the best ways to combat aging. Though many people focus on regaining their youth by altering their outward appearance, it’s actually strength, both mental and physical, that keep us feeling young. It’s this strength that provides the independence and improved quality of life that so many of us strive to hold on to and it’s attainability has never changed. From a very young age, we’ve been told by our parents that regular exercise has the power to make us feel healthier and it’s positive mood-altering properties allow us to feel calm and clear—thankfully, it remains just as true today.

The benefits of strength training and physical exercise and its effects on those over the age of 65 are well known. So why is it that so many adults reduce their physical activity around this age? Due to the nature of regular home care or nursing in retirement homes, senior citizens are not tasked with the same responsibilities they once were. It’s this dependency on family and nurses that can ultimately lead to a more sedentary lifestyle and one that prevents healthy physical activity when it’s needed most. With this reduction in normal daily activity, seniors can lose roughly 10% of their muscle mass each year. When this happens, both the mind and body that are negatively affected. But this process doesn’t have to happen and there’s no reason why the last decades of retirement can’t be happy, healthy and productive ones.

Aging is inevitable, but the way we often see it take its toll can be altered. How quickly we age is directly related to the state of our health, and those who remain both physically and mentally fit will effectively prolong its effects. It’s no longer a surprise to see senior citizens beyond 80-years-old to live active lifestyles similar to those that are decades younger. Though many will turn to medications to fight age-related illnesses, like osteoporosis, those that remain in good health are typically the ones who know that exercise, specifically strength training, is a much better solution and benefit to overall health. Osteoporosis, for example, can be reduced dramatically by participating in weight-bearing exercises. Our bodies respond to exercise, meaning the strength of our bones and muscles will be determined by our level of physical activity. Exercise that places a demand on our body, like weight lifting, will help to maintain and increase bone density and muscle strength, while those who don’t will be at an increased risk for injury. The benefits of weight training aren’t simply limited to orthopedic improvements, however. Due to the increase in circulation and blood flow to organs, especially the brain, those who practice regular weight training and lead an active lifestyle cut their risk of developing diseases like Alzheimer’s, diabetes, cancer and depression, among many others. Preventative measures such as this are always suggested to improve health and ensure for a longer life and vitality.

Weight training, in addition to a healthy diet, is ultimately the most effective prevention of what most of us consider getting “old”. It’s this regular level of physical activity that ensures we are never at the mercy of our own bodies and instead, are the ones in control. If you’d like to get started in regular exercise routine but don’t know where to start, contact Doug James at DeSoto Physical Therapy today at 775-9870 or email djames@desotopt.com. It’s never too late to start!