October 4, 2021
Whether you’ve been physically active your entire life or you’re just getting into a senior fitness program, you’ll discover numerous benefits of exercise. If you’re over 60, the benefits aren’t so much about getting washboard abs and bulging biceps. Instead, they’re about improving your balance, posture, mobility and muscle strength — things that contribute to a better quality of life.
The best news is, it’s never too late to get started. If you’re not currently active, consider these top five reasons you should join a senior fitness program now. If you’re the most active person you know, think of these five reasons as justifications to keep up your senior fitness routine.
Between 40% and 70% of older adults have chronic sleep issues, which can significantly interfere with their daily activities and reduce their quality of life. What can help? Exercise. Though researchers don’t fully understand how exercise and improved sleep are connected, studies show older adults who exercise regularly fall asleep faster, sleep longer, and report more restful sleep.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports 1 in 4 older Americans fall each year, and1 out of 5 of those falls causes a serious injury, such as a broken bone or head injury. Falling once also doubles your chances of falling again.
You know you don’t want to experience a fall — and strengthening your core muscles and joints can help you reduce your risk. Johns Hopkins Medicine has a few key exercises you can incorporate into your regular exercise routine or into a senior fitness program created for you. If you’re worried about your balance while exercising, try these chair exercises.
Older adults tend to lose their range of motion as they age. Something to incorporate into your exercise routine is tai chi, a Chinese martial art that’s been practiced for centuries. It’s been modified for different age groups and abilities; for seniors, movements are slow but repetitive, making it easy to learn and follow.
Concentrating on each movement helps you focus, relax and relieve stress. You might find you’re actually calmer and have more energy after a tai chi session. But those aren’t the only benefits. Research has shown tai chi can improve your balance, stability and flexibility. If you do tai chi regularly, it can relieve back and knee pain.
If you’d like to try tai chi on your own, here are some easy tai chi movements to get you started.
Exercise releases dopamine, a brain chemical that influences mood and can lead to feelings of enhanced motivation and concentration. It’s so important that it’s been referred to as the “happiness hormone.”
A three-year study evaluated the health and functioning impact of a senior fitness program. Researchers compared a group of seniors’ physical and emotional health, along with their ability to perform six Activities of Daily Living, or ADLs, both at the beginning and end of the study. They found the people who regularly participated in group exercise classes and social opportunities reported a higher average number of days of good health, better physical and emotional health, and less impairment for four of the six ADLs.
Maybe it doesn’t require extensive studies to tell you what you already know: You’re physically, socially and emotionally healthier when you keep your mind and your body moving. If you’re looking for a good reason to choose an active independent living community like those at Episcopal SeniorLife Communities, maybe you’ve just found it.