Staying Active As You Age: 10 Benefits

We all know the importance of maintaining an active lifestyle as we age, both for our mental and physical well-being. However, for older adults, there are some very specific benefits to staying active that you may never have considered before. 

Read on to learn more about the health benefits of maintaining an active lifestyle as you sail into your golden years.

What Exactly Does It Mean To Stay Active?

Want to feel better, be more energetic, improve your quality of life, and even live longer? Just get moving. Regular physical activity and daily exercise have many positive health effects that are difficult to deny. The CDC recommends that even past the age of 65, we should be exercising at least 150 minutes per week, which works out to 30 minutes of exercise five times a week. 

When we talk about staying active, we refer to any activity that gets your heart rate up, blood flowing, and muscles working. The level of activity you choose to pursue depends on a number of factors, including your current activity levels. You should always consult a doctor before embarking on any new type of exercise program.

Bottom line: Staying active can include a variety of activities, such as going for daily walks, meeting a friend at the gym, swimming laps at your local pool, or doing an online exercise video. Everyone, regardless of age, sex, or physical ability, benefits from exercise. Find what activities work for you and will work to keep you healthy!

10 Major Benefits of Maintaining Physical Activity

It’s easy to fall out of step with exercise as we age. Through every stage of life, there are challenges with exercise, and when we get older, our biggest challenge is our physical limitations. However, with adaptations and modifications, we can still maintain fulfilling and active lifestyles.

Read on to learn about all the health and wellness benefits of exercise you could be experiencing with an active lifestyle.

Exercise Can Fight Against Disease and Health Conditions

Regular exercise can help lower the risk or assist in managing numerous health problems and chronic conditions, including:

  • Strokes
  • Diabetes 
  • Elevated Blood Pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Metabolic Syndrome
  • Depression/ Anxiety
  • Some types of cancer
  • Obesity

Exercise Can Improve Your Mood

If the word exercise doesn’t appeal to you, or feels like work, just consider how you will feel afterward. It has been shown that exercise can help improve mood overall. Numerous brain chemicals are stimulated by physical activity, which may make you feel happier, more at ease, and less stressed.

Ever heard of a runner’s high? It’s real! The endorphins that are produced by exercise can literally make you feel happier. Regular exercise can also help you feel better about your appearance and yourself, which can increase your confidence and self-esteem. 

Running not your thing? Grab your favorite swimsuit and hop in a lake or the pool instead!

Exercise Can Increase Your Bone Density

Exercise is crucial for not only muscle mass, but also for strong bones. Older people, especially women, express that one of their main concerns as they age is the risk of osteoporosis and a decrease in bone strength.

Weight-bearing exercises such as walking, jogging, hiking, or tennis can help. Anything that gets you on your feet will aid in the strengthening of your bones. We start losing bone strength and density around the age of 50, so it’s critical to continue being active to maintain your health for many years to come.

Exercise Can Increase Your Muscle Strength

Simple strength-related tasks, such as standing on one leg or getting out of a low chair, frequently become more challenging as you age, but certain exercises can make them less challenging. 

Strength training offers benefits that can help make these tasks easier, including increased muscle strength, boosting metabolism, and fortifying bones. You can strengthen your muscles by using free weights, a weight machine, resistance bands, or even just your body weight.

Working with every major muscle group is essential since the optimal strength-training regimen is well-rounded and mimics activities you already enjoy.

Exercise Can Manifest Healthy Eating Habits

Typically, people don’t do a workout and then immediately order a pizza. After exercising, you’re often more motivated to continue healthy habits, such as eating healthier foods. By staying active, you can persuade your subconscious to reach for healthier snacks and make more nutritious meals.

We tend to feel better when eating a diet rich in fiber, protein, and healthy carbohydrates. When we exercise, we need that healthy fuel to keep us going. Maintaining an active lifestyle means that you are much more likely to maintain healthy eating habits.

Exercise Can You an Energy Boost

This one may seem a little counterintuitive. You would think that your body would be depleted and exhausted after a workout. Actually, the exact opposite is true! When you work out, endorphins kick in that give you energy and make you feel amazing.

Staying Active Can Help Control Your Weight

Though this certainly isn’t the most important benefit of exercise, it is undeniable that weight loss is a goal of exercise. A combination of cardiovascular activity and strength training is the secret to slimming down.

Changing your body as you age is more challenging, but it isn’t impossible. Start your transformation by adding a little activity to your day in places where you were previously inactive. Small changes can sometimes make a big difference!

Exercise Can Be Fun!

When people think of exercise, many picture an indoor gym with dumbbells, treadmills, and various weightlifting machines. While this atmosphere may appeal to some people, it is not for everyone. Think outside the box to find activities and exercise locations that suit your lifestyle and interests!

For example, if one of your favorite activities includes sitting on your porch with a glass of lemonade and watching the birds at the birdfeeder, why not take that same passion on the go? Research a nearby nature sanctuary, grab a bottle of water and some binoculars, and go for a short birdwatching hike. If you are happy while getting some activity in, you are more likely to keep doing it.

You can find many exercise options or even exercise classes that can be a fun, appealing alternative to a gym.

  • Tai Chi
  • Pilates
  • Chair yoga
  • Brisk walks with your dog or a companion
  • Water aerobic exercise
  • Gardening

Exercise Can Improve Your Social Life

Two often ignored factors in senior mental health are loneliness and isolation. Sadly, many older people live fairly sedentary lifestyles that include a lot of alone time. However, you can kill two birds with one stone by making an effort to stay socially active as well as physically active.

Plan to meet a friend for a daily walk, or throw on a bathing suit and head to a water aerobics class with a friend. You will make connections that you could never have imagined. After all, no one wants to walk with another person in silence. Find your people, and stay active together!

Stay Active and Live Longer

We saved the best for last. Studies have shown that those who maintain a healthy lifestyle, including exercise, tend to live longer than those who don’t. Want to spend more years with your kids or grandkids? Exercise!

Conclusion

If an exercise routine hasn’t appealed to you in the past, you might want to reconsider. With an active lifestyle, you can live longer, prevent disease, make social connections, and just be happier. The key is finding the activities that you enjoy and the people that you enjoy doing them with. Stay fit, and have fun! 

Sources:

Five Things To Do in Your 50s To Be Active at 80 | AARP

How Much Physical Activity Do Older Adults Need? | Center For Disease Control And Prevention (CDC)

Exercise: Seven Benefits of Regular Physical Activity | Mayo Clinic

How Exercise Can Lower Cancer Risk | American Cancer Society

Heart Disease Prevention: Strategies to Keep Your Heart Healthy | Mayo Clinic

The Benefits of Exercise for the Clinically Depressed | PMC

Does Physical Activity Increase Life Expectancy? A Review of the Literature | NCBI