Many adults aged 50 and over are paying a high price for their sedentary lifestyle when they were younger. They’re all missing the most important component in aging gracefully: exercise.
Older adults now have higher rates of metabolic diseases, heart disease, obesity, falls, impaired cognitive function and early death.
The Journal of Cell Metabolism defines aging in 2 parts:
- Primary aging is the progressive and inevitable process of bodily deterioration during adulthood. In skeletal muscle, primary aging causes reduced muscle mass.
- Secondary aging refers to additional structural and functional age-related changes caused by diseases and lifestyle factors.
Exercise – The Main Key In Aging Gracefully
Aging gracefully is possible as long as you stay active, healthy and independent. And all these can be achieved with proper nutrition and exercise.
Here are the benefits of exercising when you’re young, to help you get older gracefully:
1⃣ Promotes Healthy Living
Exercise promotes healthy living and aging gracefully by:
- Keeping off the harmful effects of secondary aging;
- Preventing the aging-related loss of muscle mass
- And improving insulin sensitivity.
Regular exercise is vital to the physical and mental health especially in older adults. It produces long-term health benefits and improves health for older people with diseases and disabilities.
2⃣ Burn Fat And Stay Vital
“Muscles are the sink of our nutrition, the engine that burns the stuff that keeps the weight down“, says Professor David-Cameron Smith.
Muscles that are groomed and strengthened consume energy even when not worked on directly, as they require calorie intake to be maintained. This is essentially why strength training is key to losing fat.
Other than that, strong musculature allows us to perform daily activities with greater ease and for longer periods of time, and reduce stress from our bones and joints.
3⃣ Improve Health And Delay Or Prevent Disease
Researchers found that being physically active and exercising regularly delay or prevent diseases like arthritis, diabetes, or heart disease. Exercise is also an effective adjunct treatment for several chronic conditions.
A recent study found that doing moderate exercise, as in a structured treadmill exercise program or walking 3 days weekly, improves arterial blood oxygenation, maximum oxygen consumption and overall aerobic power in healthy older people.
Previous studies have also found that resistance training in the elderly improves insulin sensitivity, long-term blood glucose control, dyslipidemia, blood pressure and muscle mass.
4⃣ Prevent Falls And Other Injuries
Falls and resulting injuries in the aging population are among the top geriatric health issues today. It is important that these are prevented as it affects functional abilities and independence.
Exercise also helps people with balance problems or difficulty walking and plays a vital role in promoting mobility and reducing fall risks. In fact, a study revealed that exercise reduced the rate of falls by 16%.
Another study found that multimodal balance exercises offer an efficient, cost-effective way to improve balance control and confidence in the elderly.
Tai chi has also been shown to reduce the risk of falling.
5⃣ Manage Stress, Improve Cognition And Mood
Regular exercise helps manage stress, improve cognition and mood and even reduce depression.
By 2038, it is projected that 1 case of dementia will be diagnosed every 2 minutes. But exercise have shown improvements in cognition in older people with or without dementia.
A recent study of healthy adults without dementia revealed that aerobic exercise improved attention, memory, executive function and processing speed.
Exercise improves the ability to plan an activity, shift between tasks quickly and with ease and dismiss irrelevant information.
A recent supervised-facility multicomponent exercise has shown to improve cognitive function, emotional function, and social networking.
6⃣ It’s Never Too Late, Get Started Now
You do not have to force yourself into working out too hard, especially if you are used to a sedentary lifestyle. The type of exercise you do depends on your current level of activity and your ability to perform certain types of exercise.
To achieve and maintain compliance, it may be more doable to include short bouts of exercise interspersed throughout the day. It helps if the exercise is aligned with your activities of daily living and with activities you enjoy.
If you’ve been inactive for a while, start small and build up gradually to reach recommended levels. You’ll still be improving your health in the process.
If you are an active individual, you can focus your energy on different exercises that will give you the most benefit you desire without overexerting yourself to the point of injury like falls.
Numerous researches focusing on exercise in the older population has shown that exercise, nutrition and other modifiable lifestyle factors have the potential to limit secondary aging.
This means that aging gracefully is beyond reach and the proverbial “fountain of youth” may be around the corner at your nearest gym or even at home with a structured fitness program.
Exercise For Seniors Infographic
Check out this infographic from ASC Seniorcare to stay healthy as you age!