How should Fitness Change in Your Senior Years?

fitness for seniors

Fitness may be crucial throughout your life, but once you hit 50, it takes on a whole new importance. One recently study carried out at the University of Birmingham found that older adults who are aerobically fit are also cognitively ‘sharper’, but the study is just the tip of the iceberg. Humans decrease their muscle strength by around 30% between the ages of 50 and 70. This means they can have a tendency to put on weight and develop metabolic-related diseases such as Type 2 diabetes.

What should I include in my fitness routine?

As an older adult, regular physical activity is one of the most important things you can do for your health. It can prevent or delay many of the health problems that seem to come with age. It also helps your muscles grow stronger so you can keep doing your day-to-day activities without becoming dependent on others.

  • To stay at the top of your game from the time you hit 50, traditional and alternative exercises such as yoga have a rightful place. Make sure you include these tips in your weekly routine.
  • At least 150 minutes a week (for example, 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week) of moderate intensity activity such as brisk walking. Or they need 75 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity activity such as hiking, jogging, or running.
  • At least 2 days a week of activities that strengthen muscles.
  • Activities to improve balance such as standing on one foot about 3 days a week.

Make Strength Training a Priority

In addition to your usual cardiovascular training, strength and resistance workouts are keyparts of a regular fitness routine. A study by researchers at the Penn State College of Medicine found that seniors who partake in weights training sessions twice a week, have a lower risk of dying. Numerous studies have shown that lifting weights improves strength, muscle mass, and physical function. This type of workout also improves conditions like osteoporosis, diabetes, obesity, and lower back pain. The American Heart Association actually recommends that all adults engage in weights training at least twice weekly. Weights training does not have to be expensive. Seniors wishing to lower fitness expenses can invest in a basic set of weights that can be used to tone biceps, triceps, quadriceps, and other major muscle groups.

Include Yoga into the Equation

The ancient practice of yoga is often recommended for seniors, since it can help with symptoms of many conditions that the elderly can face. One of these is arthritis. Just eight weeks of intensive yoga was found to significantly reduce the severity of both physical and psychological symptoms in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Because this condition can be so painful and debilitating, practices like yoga, which are totally natural and have no side-effects, should be embraced. As mentioned, yoga has benefits beyond the physical, since it significantly lowers stress hormones which, when present at a high level, can exacerbate pain. Yoga also boosts flexibility, which is important considering that joints become stiffer as human beings age.

Don’t Forget Aerobics

As noted by scientists at the UT Southwestern Medical Center, exercise can reverse damage to seniors who lead a sedentary lifestyle. It helps prevent heart failure, but scientists state that to reap its maximum benefits, you should begin working out regularly by at least late middle age (when the heart retains plasticity and has a greater ability to remodel itself). The scientists recommend that seniors workout four to five times a week for half an hour at least. They note that at least one of these sessions should involve a high-intensity workout, and that weights or exercise machines should be opted for at least once or twice a week on separate days from aerobic workouts.

Some of the key benefits of fitness for older adults include:

Prevents Bone Loss: Both men and women lose bone density as they age, with post-menopausal women losing up to 2% each year. Strength training has been shown to counteract this loss and actually restore bone density.

Helps Prevent Chronic Disease: Exercise provides a protective effect against a host of chronic illnesses, including cardiovascular disease, colon cancer, diabetes, obesity, and hypertension. If you already have a chronic condition, physical activity can minimize symptoms. It can even help reduce cognitive decline.

Boosts Immunity: A 2018 study linked moderate exercise with a lower incidence of acute respiratory illness and fewer sick days off of work. Some scientists believe that the anti-inflammatory effects of physical activity enable better immune function. Exercise may also improve the performance of immune cells.

Improves Mood: Simply put, exercise makes us feel good. It can help ease anxiety and depression symptoms, increase relaxation, and create an overall sense of wellbeing. A 2019 study of adult men age 65 and older found that the mood-boosting benefits of exercise continue well into old age, underscoring why it’s so vital to stay active.

You are only as old as you feel, and exercise can certainly help you feel considerably younger. By targeting strength, flexibility, fitness, and heart health, it can ensure you lead a healthier and longer life. It can also reduce your chance of heart disease and indeed of mortality as a whole, and should therefore be considered part and parcel of a sound anti-aging program.

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