Exercise for Older Adults – Why?

The attitude for many older adults (“older” is subjective… here I am referring to over 50s/60s - I know that isn’t “old” but depending on your activity level a lot of these points are super valid! Also important for those under 50/60 to think about too!) is “I’m too old for that/who can be bothered” when it comes to exercise. Exercise can be seen as a hassle that is “pointless” at that age. So, are they right – is there any point to exercising once you’re over 50 or 60?

Middle Aged Man Running a Marathon

Yes there is! Exercise and living a healthy lifestyle is so incredibly important no matter how old you are. There are some added benefits for older adults though that you might not have thought about.

Reduces the Risk of Illness
Having a healthy, active lifestyle helps reduce the possibility of illness and can add years to your life! Just some of the illnesses exercise can reduce the risk/effects of are:
Heart Disease – Regular exercises improves your cardiovascular health and helps maintain a healthy weight and cholesterol levels. This all reduces the risk of heart disease.
Arthritis – Some studies have shown that exercise can improve the pain and stiffness felt in joints. Also, weight loss resulting from a healthier lifestyle can reduce pressure on your joints alleviating pain.
Diabetes – Obesity is one of the leading causes of Type 2 Diabetes. Regular exercise & developing healthy eating habits that results in weight loss can reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Exercise can also help maintain normal blood-glucose levels.
Joint Pain – Regular exercise strengthens your bones and muscles which can alleviate joint pain you may be having.

Reduces the Risk of Falls
Depending on your age you may be thinking I’m 50 not 90, why do I need to worry about “falls”. When we are younger we often don’t think about what happens to our bodies when we get older. As we age, our muscle mass decreases. The less muscle we have the less we are able to support our body weight doing every day activities. Often times the reasons older adults have falls is because they don’t have a fast enough reaction time to be able to catch themselves and because they don’t have enough muscle to be able to stop themselves from falling. Regular exercise can maintain our muscle mass as we get older and help improve our reaction times. Unfortunately, if you wait until you’re at the age when falls can become a problem then you may have waited too long if you can’t develop enough muscle before a fall happens. Forethought is needed!  

Increases Bone Density
Resistance training (adding resistance to a movement via body weight or external resistance such as weights) causes our muscles to pull on our bones. When this process is done repeatedly it increases our bone density. This is good because once again our bone density decreases as we age, making our bones weaker, meaning they will break a lot more easily!

Improves Quality Of Life
Having a healthy and active lifestyle can massively improve your quality of life. It means you will most likely remain independent for longer which is amazing. You will also be more confident meaning you wont be as worried about that trip overseas or keeping up with the grandchildren.

It’s great for the mind!
Maintaining a healthy active lifestyle also has a positive effect on our brain! It reduces stress, boosts our mood and can reduce the risk of developing memory loss, dementia and depression. These are fantastic benefits for everyone!  

So with all of the amazing benefits considered (not to mention countless others associated with healthy eating and keeping active) what are some of the ways older adults can start being active and healthier?

Consult Your Doctor
This is really important. If you have any health conditions it is always best to speak to your doctor to make sure any health condition you have isn’t going to be made worse by a certain type of exercise

Start Moving
Movement is super important! You can begin by going for regular walks for 30 minutes a day and build up from there. You could join a gym that offers group classes for older adults specifically. You can even hire a personal trainer to get a more tailored experience! There are endless options you can look into!

Focus on eating whole foods
No need to over complicate nutrition. If you focus on eating mostly whole foods comprised of a variety of fruits, vegetables, proteins and grains then you are moving in the right direction. You also want to focus on drinking water each day. Building up to 2L per day would be a fantastic goal! Make sure you keep balance in your diet, it’s fine to have treats every now and then.

I hope this information was valuable to all people, not just older adults! We all need to look ahead and see how healthy changes can make an impact on our lives not just now but in the future!

Talk Soon!
Brittany Frino
Active Edge Fitness