The Surprising Extra Benefits of Exercise for Seniors
By Janet Crozier
We’ve all heard about the many benefits of exercise — a healthier heart, stronger bones, improved appearance and flexibility — but exercise has many additional benefits, especially for seniors.
“Many characteristics we associate with older age — like the inability to walk long distances, climb stairs, or carry groceries, are largely due to a lack of physical activity,” explains Dr. John Montgomery, a family physician, medical epidemiologist and vice-president of Senior Care Solutions with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida.
However, according to AARP, 40 percent of people between 45 and 64 are considered sedentary. For people over 64, that number jumps to 60 percent.
“Some are worried that exercise will cause illness or injury,” said Montgomery. “Others think exercise means they have to do something strenuous, which they may not be capable of. What they may not realize is that it could be more of a risk not to exercise,” explains Montgomery.
Seniors can benefit tremendously from regular exercise. The Centers for Disease Control reports that seniors have even more to gain than younger people by becoming more active because they are at higher risk for the health problems that physical activity can prevent.
Even moderate physical activity can help seniors to:
Increase mental capacity
Research links physical activity with slower mental decline. Exercise increases blood flow to all parts of your body, including your brain, and might promote cell growth there. Exercise — particularly if it starts early and is maintained over time — is beneficial in preventing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. (Source: Senior Journal.com)
Exercise may delay or prevent many diseases associated with aging, such as diabetes, colon cancer, heart disease, stroke, and others, and may reduce overall death and hospitalization rates, according to the National Institute of Aging.
Injuries and wounds take longer to heal as people age. Regular exercise by older adults may speed up the wound-healing process by as much as 25 percent. (Source: Senior Journal.com)