Exercise is a vital component of a healthy lifestyle. As a result, it has no age limit: children and seniors alike should be participating in an age-appropriate level of physical activity each week. While children are usually able to stay fit through play, most aging adults do not experience a healthy amount of activity; only 28% to 34% of adults between the ages of 65 and 74 are physically active. Though being active is more difficult (especially in terms of getting started) when you're older, it offers a slew of benefits, both physical and mental. Let's take a look at three of them.
- Prevent disease: Regular physical activity does more than build muscle. Studies have shown that many common diseases -- such as heart disease and diabetes, which many seniors suffer from -- can be prevented by routine exercise. Exercise also improves overall immune function, giving elderly individuals whose immune systems are often compromised a boost.
- Decrease risk of falls: Falls can be devastating to aging adults; a broken bone -- particularly ones that can't be cast, like a hip -- takes much longer to recover from and could leave lasting damage. When you exercise routinely, however, you will improve your strength, flexibility, and will be more balanced and coordinated, reducing the risk of falls greatly.
- Improved cognitive function: Regular exercise can fine-tune your motor skills, which in turn benefits cognitive function. Studies show that physically active individuals have a lower chance of developing dementia, a particularly brutal disease that can affect your family as much as yourself.
Achieving your fitness goals -- even if they are simply to walk around the block every day -- is not impossible when you're above the age of 65. There are a variety of classes available in fitness centers across the country that cater to the older crowd to help get you started: stretching classes for seniors can improve stability, silver sneakers classes move at a more gentle pace, and strength training for those recovering from injuries can get you back on your feet in no time. It's time to end those age-old excuses and sign up for silver sneakers classes today.