When it comes to our health, taking it easy as much as possible is not always the best option. This is especially true for the elderly. While it might be tempting to avoid injury and emergency care by living a sedentary lifestyle, you are only tightening your joints, decreasing muscle mass, and increasing your risk for disease. By finding the right forms of exercise, and doing so safely, you can significantly improve your health and life. The following are just some of the reasons why exercise should be part of your health care regimen.
It improves cardiovascular health. 84 percent of people age 65 years and older die from heart disease. Though heart disease risks increase with age, it doesn’t have to be an inevitable part of getting older. By getting your heart rate up just a few times per week, you can keep your heart and lungs healthy for years to come. Try a fitness class for seniors, a swimming routine, or fast walking to get your heart pumping. It can also be just as easy as having a dance party with your grandchildren or riding bikes with adult children. The risk of chronic disease, such as heart disease or dementia, is also lowered.
Exercise increases both bone density and muscle function. As we get older, our bone density weakens, which means that a simple fall suddenly becomes a lot more dangerous. In addition, our muscle function starts to fall, but exercise can improve basic muscle function throughout the entire body. It doesn’t have to be intense, all-purpose exercise either — even gentle exercise like going for a walk every day keeps your body in shape. Above all, exercise improves your mood, and that might just be key. Seniors can often be isolated and become depressed easily, so by keeping the body in shape, you keep the mind working.
Don’t think that every senior needs to get a gym membership and use it rigorously, though if that’s what you enjoy, you can! Make time to exercise, and make it fun by doing it with family and friends.