How and Why Seniors Need to Exercise

It’s a fact that we all lose muscle mass as we age, and the amount of loss can be significant. Seniors who don’t exercise may lose 3-5% of their muscle mass about every 10 years. That kind of loss can put a real damper on your golden years. The solution? Get moving!

You don’t need to be a bodybuilder to feel the impact of lost muscle. A significant loss of muscle mass can create major problems for seniors. It can impact balance, cause you to become frail, and affect your metabolism. Exercising and working on building your muscle can improve your quality of life as you age and help you maintain your balance, a key to preventing devastating falls and loss of mobility.

Fitness for better quality of life

It’s important for everyone to stay fit and healthy, and Dr. Valdez shares this advice with all of his patients. But if you’re over the age of 50, staying active is essential to maintaining your independence. Exercise improves your body, making you leaner and stronger, boosts your mood, and helps you maintain your coordination as you age.

The good news is that you don’t have to go to athletic extremes to strengthen your muscles. Just by keeping a regimen of regular activity, you can gain so much more than muscle.

Here are some of the benefits of exercise for older adults and some easy ways to fit more movement into your lifestyle.

Increases lifespan    

A sedentary lifestyle is deadly. Get up off the couch, put on your tennies, and go for a short walk. Even as little as 20-30 minutes a day will improve your chances of living a longer, healthier life.

Improves cardiovascular health

Walking, cycling, swimming, or even doing housework for 20-30 minutes per day will greatly improve your cardiovascular health, helping prevent heart attack and stroke. Just try to do something that elevates your heart rate and gets your blood moving.

Reduces chance of falls

Falls are one of the most devastating events that can happen to you as you age. Breaking a hip or fracturing an arm or a shoulder can easily impair your mobility, possibly for the rest of your life. Seniors need to exercise in order to improve coordination, muscle strength, and balance in order to help prevent falls.

Helps reduce risk for dementia

Increased blood flow and improved circulation as a result of regular aerobic exercise helps promote brain health and reduces your risk for developing dementia as you age. Try walking, swimming, biking, or even taking a dance class.

Prevents or delays the onset of certain diseases

Do you suffer from diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, or a similar chronic condition that typically plagues older Americans? Exercise can reduce the chance of these conditions growing worse. Getting moving can help maintain healthy blood sugar, reduce cholesterol, and increase flexibility. Even 30 minutes of yoga or pilates counts.

Improves bone density

One in three adults over the age of 50 die within 12 months of suffering a hip fracture. Brittle bones and osteoporosis play a significant role in hip fractures. But your bones need not thin with age. Exercises such as walking, with or without jogging intervals, hiking, dancing, and tennis are all considered “weight-bearing,” which helps to build and preserve bone density, warding off fractures as you age.

Improves confidence and promotes independence

As you become adept at exercise, you naturally improve your mobility. Your chance of remaining independent depends a great deal on your ability to get around, your flexibility, and your reflexes. Seniors need to exercise in order to maintain independence and build self-confidence. When you walk, seek to improve your time and distance. Meet with an instructor for some gentle weight training, building up the amount you lift. Strive to get better and don’t stop.

Get your doctor’s approval

Before you begin an exercise regimen, it’s wise to meet with your doctor and get the go-ahead. Dr. Valdez loves working with seniors and knows how to help you maintain your quality of life, mobility -- and most of all, your independence. Check with him about what type of exercise plan is best for your body.

To celebrate Healthy Aging Month, why not begin your own fitness plan? Contact our office in Santa Ana for an appointment today and find out the many ways you can improve your life, no matter your age.

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