Author - Anastasia Belikov, PT, Cert. MDT
Graduated with her DPT in 2017
Exercising and Aging
IN THE KNOW
Tuesday, August 23, 2022
Exercising, being healthy and fit, in large majority is taken up by the younger generations. But, exercising is still very important as you get older. Prevention of deficiencies and disabilities involves regular physical exercise.
1. Stop The Excuses: Just Start Moving
You can come up with multiple reasons for not being physically active. Some might even be valid, but know this: being still is bad. Roughly 3.2 million people die each year because of being sedentary. Regular exercise is critical to good health.
2. I’m Too Old To Exercise
Exercise is good for everyone, including older adults. Even doing a small amount of exercise can have a large impact. Talk with your doctor first, of course. If you’ve been inactive, take it easy as you get started, say, 5-10 minutes of moderate activity each day.
3. I Just Need To Take It Easy At My Age
It’s not your age that has you feeling the need to rest - it’s the fact that you’re sedentary and inactive. Even older adults with serious health problems - heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, etc. - can live better lives by getting up and moving.
4. I Don’t Think My Heart Can Take It
The more you do to stay active as you age, the lower your chances are for things like heart attacks and strokes. Your doctor and physical therapist can tell you what type of exercises are best, and for how long you should do them. You’ll probably shoot for 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity a week, like a brisk walk or an easy bike ride. Mowing the lawn or a heavy cleaning session counts, too. And you don’t have to do them in 30-minute chunks, as long as it adds up to the total amount of time you were recommended.
5. I Can’t Move Like I Used To
Exercises that work on flexibility are 1 of 4 important categories. The other categories are exercises that improve endurance, strength, and balance. Stiffness can be alleviated easily with stretching exercises that target hips, legs, shoulders, your neck, your back, basically anywhere. Yoga can help, too.
6. I’m Afraid I’ll Hurt Myself
To be safe, check with your doctor first, especially if you’ve been inactive or have health problems. Your doctor knows what you need and what you can do. Start with low-intensity exercises, and gradually build your tolerance. If it hurts, stop.
7. I Can’t Change
A recent study suggests that certain exercises -- like riding a stationary bicycle -- actually slow cell decline that can happen as you age. In other words, it’s never too late to reap the benefits of exercise. No matter how old you are, how inactive, or how out of shape you have been for however long, exercise can provide lots of help for lots of things.
8. I Don’t Like To Exercise
Being physically active doesn’t necessarily mean lifting big weights at the gym or going for a 10-mile run. Find activities that you enjoy and that will keep you at it. You could work in the yard or garden, walk with friends, or take a bike ride. Mix things up every so often, too, so you don’t get bored.
9. I Exercise Better With A Friend
Having a partner or getting into a group helps. Studies show that supervision and support can help you stay focused and feel good about what you’re doing. Workout partners can really help if you’ve been inactive for a while and you’re cranking things back up. Some people do prefer to go solo. If you’re not one, find a group in your community. You can find one online, or your doctor can help you.
10. I Don’t Have The Time
A full schedule - because of babysitting the grandkids, other family obligations, housework, etc. - is often cited as a reason to skip exercising. When you think about all the benefits of regular physical activity, and the minimum time required (150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity), the answer is clear: If you want to stay healthy, you can find the time.
11. My Heart Is Fine
It’s not just about your heart. Regular exercise also helps your lungs, muscles, your entire circulatory system, and internal organs. It includes benefits that can lower blood pressure, better bone and joint health, and less chance of things like colon cancer and diabetes.
12. I Don’t Want To Fall
Falling can be a problem for older adults. But with regular physical activity, including exercises that work on balance - exercises that you can do almost anytime, anywhere - you can help prevent the falls that hurt so many older adults. Your physical therapist can definitely help with balance and stability exercises.
13. I’m More Worried About My Brain
Exercise is great for your brain. Experts say not only can exercise help you stave off mental health issues like depression and anxiety, it can also help you stay on task and be better able to move from one to-do item to the next. Healthy body, healthy mind.
Regularly exercising has shown to lower fat mass and increase muscle strength, quality, and mobility. A planned training program for the body improves the function of multiple organ systems. Continuing to exercise as you age, brings a reduction in health costs by preventing falls, strokes, heart attacks, and chronic diseases inherent to aging. Other interventions for successful aging include a correct diet and hormone replacement.
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Holloszy, J. O. (2000). The Biology of Aging. Mayo Clinic Proceedings, 75(1), S3–S9. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0025-6196(19)30634-2
Rava, A., Pihlak, A., Ereline, J., Gapeyeva, H., Kums, T., Purge, P., Jürimäe, J., & Pääsuke, M. (2017). Body Composition, Neuromuscular Performance, and Mobility: Comparison Between Regularly Exercising and Inactive Older Women. Journal of Aging and Physical Activity, 25(1), 58–64. https://doi.org/10.1123/japa.2016-0019
Web MD. (2021, January 20). The Truth About Exercise and Aging. WebMD. Retrieved August 23, 2022, from https://www.webmd.com/healthy-aging/ss/slideshow-truth-about-exercise-aging