What’s more important than just living longer? Living a healthy, high-quality life. As we age, our body and mind goes through changes. These changes decrease the body and brain’s ability to function optimally. Luckily, there are scientifically-backed ways to slow this process down. Staying active helps keep the body in good working condition and the brain sharp.
Staying Physically Active Helps Maintain Health
The areas most impacted by age are skeletal muscle, bone density, mobility, and balance. Despite what we may think, these are extremely common health issues for seniors. In fact, one in three people over the age of 65 will lose their balance and experience a bad fall at some point in their life. Once that happens, it’s extremely difficult to fully recover.
Exercising and specifically training for balance and stability greatly reduces the risk of a fall. General exercise is also very impactful. As one study found, older adults who exercised more experienced less physical decline than those who didn’t.
Exercise Helps With Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Conditions
On top of muscle loss and decreasing bone density, there’s also arthritis. Unfortunately, arthritis is very prevalent in people over 65. Previously the general consensus was that exercise only further aggravated arthritis. However, a new study found that a low-impact exercise program has been shown to help older adults with these conditions and raise their quality of life.
So what do you have to do to better your quality of life? Low impact resistance training will help you to maintain skeletal muscle mass, support bone density, decrease pain, and improve mobility. A simple 30-minute routine, three times a week, should provide substantial improvements in all of these areas.
Exercising The Body Also Exercises The Brain
Regular training produces multiple benefits for the physical spectrum of your body. But, did you know that it also helps your brain? A study found that older people who are physically active might be protecting themselves from the effects of small areas of brain damage that can affect their movement abilities. This is likely due to the increased brain activity from these training sessions. Muscle contractions and balance exercises use the nervous system boosting parts of the brain that would otherwise be fairly inactive.
Equally as important as physical exercise is mental exercise. One study found that after 10 training sessions of 60 to 75 minutes over six weeks, cognitive ability was vastly improved. These mental exercises offset the decline in thinking proficiencies helping people perform daily tasks like grocery shopping, cooking, and balancing a checkbook. If nothing else, regularly reading, regardless of content, can also have a positive impact on the mental clarity of a senior.
A Busy Social Life Raises Self-Perceived Wellness
What can’t be trained carries as much value as what can be. As a highly social species, it’s paramount to maintain social contact with others, a challenge that only increases with age.
An estimated 80% of seniors frequently participate in one social activity per week. Although this seems substantial, a new study found that the more frequent and varied the social activities are, the better positive self-perceived health was and participants felt less loneliness. Just continuing activities such as board games, having coffee with a friend, or visiting a museum drastically helps mental positivity and self-perceived quality of life.
Social Media Interaction Improves Memory, Reduces Risk of Dementia
When you think of social media, you generally think of younger people interacting. But, an active social life has been proven to help memory. In fact, it’s vital to maintaining a strong memory. As a result, it should come as no surprise that interactions – even through email and social media – are shown to help seniors feel more connected. It’s just further proof that the more social interaction, the better.
Stay Active to Stay Yourself
Life never stops and neither should we, regardless of our age. In fact, science clearly indicates that regular fitness and social activities will improve the health and quality of life for seniors. Regular exercise maintains the physical and mental health of the body and decreases the risk for falls. Even 90 minutes a week, or about 13 minutes a day, of physical activity can make a significant difference to the health of a senior. Continuing frequent and varied social interaction, even in an online capacity, has also been shown to improve memory and make seniors feel more connected and valued. Overall, signs clearly indicate that to remain healthy, we need to maintain fitness and social interactions as we age.