5 Benefits of Exercise for Older Adults to Promote Wellness and Vitality

While the golden years can mean less work, aging shouldn’t be synonymous with “slowing down.” On the contrary, while it can’t be bottled, staying on the move is the real “fountain of youth.”

The numerous benefits of exercise in older adults (60 and over) include a reduced risk for “cardiovascular mortality, breast and prostate cancer, fractures, recurrent falls, ADL disability, functional limitation and cognitive decline, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and depression.”

Active seniors also tend to have a better quality of life and cognitive functioning.

5 Benefits of Exercise on the Aging Process

When it comes to the reasons to stay fit, the evidence speaks for itself.

  1. Reduce your risk of falls: Annually, three million older adults are treated in the emergency room for fall injuries. Research has shown that people who exercise regularly are less likely to fall because it improves balance and leg strength.
  2. Prevent bone loss. Most of us lose bone as we age, which can lead to osteoporosis, making us more at risk for fractures. In fact, post-menopausal women can lose 2% of their bone density a year. Weight-bearing exercises like walking, hiking, tai chi, jogging, and dancing can prevent bone loss.
  3. Manage symptoms of chronic disease. Regular exercise can lower your blood sugar levels if you have diabetes, reduce pain and joint stiffness for people with arthritis, and improve cognition for people living with dementia.
  4. Boost your mood. Physical activity helps fight depression and anxiety through feel-good endorphins and socializing.
  5. Maintain your independence. By preventing falls and maintaining your strength, active people tend to have the option to live independently longer.

Fitness and Fun: Social Benefits of Physical Activity

The benefits of exercise don’t just include physical and mental perks. Taking a fitness class can mean meeting new people. Plus, taking a walk with a friend incorporates activity, social connections, and accountability. There’s nothing like meeting a friend for a workout to keep you motivated. 

How Much Exercise Is Enough for Seniors?

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), adults aged 65 and older need:

  • At least 150 minutes a week (for example, 30 minutes a day, five days a week) of moderate-intensity activity such as brisk walking. Or 75 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity activity such as hiking, jogging, or running.
  • At least two days a week of activities that strengthen muscles.
  • Activities to improve balance such as standing on one foot about three days a week.

You don’t have to be running marathons into your 70s (like the incredibly inspiring Gene Dykes) to reap the benefits. Talk to your doctor before embarking on a fitness program. For some seniors, lower-impact exercises may be a better choice. Exercising in the water is easier on your joints. Chair exercises are an option for adults with limited mobility.

Menno Haven: Active Living for Seniors

With yoga, tai chi, walking trails, three heated indoor pools, and three on-site fitness centers, staying active at Menno Haven is easy.

Contact us to schedule a tour or learn more about the vibrant community at Menno Haven.