Last month, we kicked off our Aging Well series to shed light on various aspects of optimizing ones physical, mental, and emotional well-being throughout their senior years. We began witha focus on good nutrition as an essential component of aging well, and we continue this month with nutritions go-to counterpart: exercise. Proper physical activity is vital to healthy aging, and it supports a wealth of benefits for seniors who incorporate this aspect into their daily lives.
In fact, exercise is one of the best and most important elements a senior can implement in the interest of aging well. Lets explore this topic more fully, breaking down some helpful insights and information on precisely what role physical activity plays in ones senior yearsand what older adults can do to integrate exercise in a healthy way.
First things first: lets address the WHY behind prioritizing exercise for seniors. There are several highly worthwhile outcomes associated with older adults engaging in a proper amount of physical activity on a consistent basis.The National Council on Aging outlines the following life-changing benefits of exercisefor individuals over the age of 60:
Now that you have a better understanding of what exercise can realistically do to improve a seniors overall well-being, well take a closer look at how much physical activity is required to reap these benefits. Of course, it should go without saying that any amount of exercise is better than no exercise. And the more physical activity a senior integrates into their lifestyle, the more positive outcomes they are likely to achieve.
But for the sake of making these goals a bit more tangible, here isspecific guidance from the CDC on proper levels of physical activity for seniors. Adults aged 65 and older should aim for:
The CDC explains that if chronic conditions affect your ability to meet these recommendations, its best to be as physically active as your abilities and conditions allow.
If aging well and maintaining independence for as long as possible is important to you, exercise is a critical part of the equation. But if youre unsure of how to effectively prioritize physical activity in your everyday lifeor even where to beginyou may struggle to reap the benefits. To help seniors get started on a path toward implementing exercise as an element of overall health, here are some valuable tips and insights from the experts.
TheNational Institute on Agingurges seniors to beginslowly. If youre just starting out with exercise, its important not to overdo it, as this can lead to injury or an inclination to quit. The key to success and safety is building up slowly from ones current fitness level. A steady rate of progress is best.
To support safety and reduce the risk of injury, the NIA recommends that seniors keep the following tips in mind:
Its certainly true that seniors should aim to integrate healthy amounts of physical activity into their daily lives no matter where they live. But its also the case that certain environments are more conducive to making this goal a reality. Some older adults find that living alone decreases their incentive to exercise, as they may feel lonely and/or depressed.
For exercise to become a routine, seniors should be motivated by their surroundings to get up and be active. This is why residents of senior living communities are more likely to fulfill their recommended levels of physical activity. This type of environment naturally encourages proper exercise through access to coordinated classes, equipment, events, and activities, as well as proximity to neighbors and staff who can help motivate and instruct.
Keep in mind that exercise doesnt have to be a chore; it can actually become a fun and enjoyable part of ones day. So regardless of where you live or what your approach to aging well is, be sure to put exercise high on the list!
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