The common image of a senior is frail and forgetful. While it is true that many older adults live a sedentary lifestyle which now negatively affects their physical and mental health, it is not the reality for all of them. There are elderly people who have managed to live a physically active lifestyle throughout their lives and, up to their old age, maintain a level of physical activity.
The Importance of Exercise for Seniors
Many things have been discovered about the health benefits of physical activity for everyone, including seniors.
Exercise, according to previous studies, can improve your mood, lower stress levels and help you relax, give you a boost of energy, increase self-esteem, and generate a sense of achievement. Moreover, there are mountains of evidence that prove that physical activity can lengthen your lifespan by decreasing your risk of developing illnesses such as coronary heart disease, type-2 diabetes, arthritis, and certain types of cancer.
The mind also benefits when a person exercises regularly. Regular physical activity has been linked to improved memory and brainpower. In addition, scientists have found that exercise benefits those who are at risk or already experiencing symptoms of anxiety and depression, a common issue among seniors.
Those who are aged 65 years old and older, generally fit, and have no health conditions limiting their movements should have at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobics and at least two days of muscle-strengthening activities per week. Those with an underlying health condition should first consult their doctors before increasing their physical activity to avoid accidents and injuries.
Taking Up a Sport
There is a false belief that playing sports is only for young people. Seniors are meant to participate in activities that are kinder to their joints such as gardening or knitting. However, that is not always the case.
According to data, hiking continues to be the most popular sporting activity by older adults living in France.
Hiking is a great source of exercise for various reasons. One, it does not require any sort of previous professional training. It also does not require special equipment to start. Moreover, hiking is a relaxing activity because it allows you to disconnect from your electronic devices and enjoy the wonders of nature. The Japanese have a practice called “forest bathing,” in which people hike to experience the healing powers of the natural environment.
Many seniors around the world also enjoy swimming and cycling, both of which are more gentle to the joints compared to running. These physical activities allow older adults to participate for longer and without fear of pain.
Then, there is golf, a sport more often associated with retirees. While anyone can play golf, seniors outnumber young players. In the United States, the average age of golfers is 54.
Staying Active in Your Twilight Years
The importance of physical activity for seniors has been established, and there are numerous sports that they can continue or start doing despite their advanced age.
Those who live a pretty active lifestyle will benefit from moving into a retirement community. These places typically have amenities, including fitness facilities, within proximity. In addition, residents continue to be independent. Their habits and routines do not have to change significantly, even if they move to a senior living community.
It is best to speak to a trusted senior living advisor who can provide a recommendation for the right facility for your loved one.
Those who were not particularly physically active throughout their lives can still play sports in old age. The key is to discuss your plans with their physician, and start slowly. Their body will need time to rebuild their flexibility, strength, and endurance. It is not a good idea to jump immediately to the activity of your choice without ample preparation.
It is also better to enroll them in a class or enlist a friend for them to practice with. That way, someone will monitor their movement and form whenever they do the exercises. Everyone, but most especially seniors, is at risk of sustaining injuries whenever they try a new physical activity.
Seniors should also set more realistic goals. Exercising will make them stronger, more flexible, and endure longer. However, they will not be moving back in time. The impact of age on the body will never be erased, only eased. Despite their hard work, they will never be able to move and keep up with young people. That, however, does not mean that they are not reaping the health benefits of exercising. As long as they do it regularly and stick with it for the long haul, they will continue to enjoy being physically active through their later years.
Many seniors do not get enough physical activity. Instead, they choose to be sedentary because of the false belief that they are weaker and frail. However, there are seniors who continue to be physically active despite their age. It is never too late for anyone, including seniors to be physically active.