Active Living for Seniors: Why You Should Start Now (If You Haven’t Already)

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What are the benefits of active living for seniors? You’re about to understand why it’s so important. If you haven’t already started incorporating exercise into your life, there’s no time to waste. Find out why an active lifestyle needs to be a priority – and what you stand to gain by doing so. Read the details below.

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CONTENTS – In this article, you will learn why it’s important to get more exercise as you age, including:

Why Exercise Gets More Important As You Get Older

It’s a common assumption in society that as you grow older, you will have more health complaints. 

TV and other forms of media are full of nods to this idea, from middle-aged men whose backs aren’t quite what they used to be, widowers who are prone to fainting, and anyone over a certain age suffering from heart problems. 

As with all clichés, these ideas are based on a certain amount of fact, a whole lot of assumptions, and some flat-out inaccuracy.

The truth is that as you get older, you do have to take greater care of your health. 

For example, in terms of your diet: you are more likely to have food intolerances the older you get. Your metabolism will likely slow down, too. That means, you may not be able to eat as much as you used to, or burn it off quickly.

Just as importantly, though, and perhaps even more so, you will need to exercise, and the penalties for not doing so become greater. 

If you are someone who hasn’t really had an active lifestyle, the sooner you start getting some exercise, the better. 

Depending on your level of fitness, tennis or pickleball are a great way to incorporate some activity into your life – and they can be fun socially, too!

Related: 7 Ways to Stay Fit While Traveling: Easy Wellness, To-Go

Common Problems When You Don’t Exercise

As you age, your body naturally declines. 

For instance, to some degree or another, you can expect:

  • Reduced muscle mass, coordination and balance, joint flexibility and mobility
  • Decline in bone strength, cardiovascular. and respiratory functions
  • Increase in body fat, blood pressure, anxiety and depression
  • Risk of diseases like cardiovascular disease and stroke increase 

If you settle for or prefer a sedentary life as you age, you may be putting yourself at further risk. According to the CDC, low levels of physical activity can contribute to heart disease, type 2 diabetes, some kinds of cancer, and obesity.

What’s the alternative? Active Living

That’s when you incorporate physical activity into your daily routines, along with social, mental, emotional, and spiritual activities.

Why Is It Important to Stay Active As You Get Older?

In short, by choosing to stay active as you age, you’re investing in your own better health. 

Here are several good reasons why you should make an active lifestyle a priority.

Active Living for Seniors: Staying Active Helps Extend Your Life

There is evidence to demonstrate that more exercise as you get older will extend your life and boost your quality of life. 

One unavoidable fact about aging is that your metabolism will slow down. So, if you follow the same diet from your 40s when you’re 60, you’ll gain weight. The more weight you gain, the worse your health is going to be as you get older. 

So it’s worth planning to have an active retirement, and including long walks in your holiday itineraries. Honestly, this will make each holiday more rewarding even before you consider the health benefits.

But you also want to think about ‘stepping it up’ when it comes to your daily routine. If you must, set a timer to make sure you get up and about, or better yet that you get out every day. 

That way, you’ll be making an effort to be around longer. Regular exercise benefits your muscle, bone, heart, lungs, joints, and fat levels.

The More Active You Are, the Better For Your Mind

Conditions like depression become more common the older your get – even though it’s often under-reported. 

You’ll find various reasons for this, including social isolation and existential factors. The good news is that it’s been shown that those who find time to plan safe exercises for seniors are less likely to experience harm to their mental health. 

Whether you take classes at the local Senior Center or join a club, exercise gets your adrenaline going and releases endorphins. That alone makes you feel better. 

Plus, there are the social benefits of exercise. You may potentially make new friends, which means you’ll have a more enthused outlook on life. 

Finally, raising your mood this way vastly reduces the possibility of cognitive decline in later life. That’s a great incentive to get your body moving and practice active living for seniors!

Exercise Will Keep You Independent

One of the most popular advertisements about aging involves the idea that when you fall over, it’s an emergency. 

Older people are understood to have more brittle bones, less flexible muscles and a greater propensity to need medical attention for a comparatively minor incident. 

It’s true that as you age, you are likely to lose bone density, but you have some measure of control over how fast the decline is. Exercise helps. 

By staying physically active, you’re less likely to have mobility issues that limit you based on muscle and bone mass. It can also reduce joint and muscle pain.

And if you’re more active, you’ll be more resilient, and therefore more independent, longer. 

Final Thoughts on Active Living for Seniors

So if exercise hasn’t been a priority in your life, or you’ve been putting it off altogether, you might want to give it a second thought. Having an active lifestyle is one of the most proactive ways you can age well.

You might make a point of walking daily, sign-up for senior yoga, buy an exercise bike, or join the gym for strength training. Every little bit helps slow the effects of aging. If you’re not sure what’s right for you, ask your doctor.

Of course, you’ll still need to have a support system around you and emergency contacts. But the healthier you feel, the more independent you’re able to be.

This dentist who does orthodontics in Upper East Side also highly recommends complementing an active lifestyle with routine health checkups to stay on top of your health.

Continue reading about how to maintain good health as you age here.

Photo credit: Mikhail Nilov (Pexels)