Exercise to Help as You Age

So often, fitness advice focuses on younger people. That’s wonderful! Becoming and staying fit young helps you age. However, neglecting to give older people exercise advice is dangerous! Exercise is essential at all stages of life. Exercising when we’re older helps our physical and mental health.

Exercise lowers inflammation and aids brain plasticity, preventing the symptoms of dementia. It can reduce tremors and stiffness associated with conditions like Parkinson’s. And it can help mental wellbeing.

Different types of exercise aid separate aspects of health. Incorporating various kinds of movement into your day can benefit you in multiple ways. Things that benefit your heart — like walking, swimming, biking or dancing — increase your blood flow and help your brain, slowing cognitive decline. Meanwhile, exercises that help your muscles — like weightlifting or using resistance bands — improve your bone density and lower your risk of a fall.  

While younger people may seek results like running faster or looking great in a bathing suit, our goals should shift as we age. Prioritizing stretching and exercise like yoga or pilates can help maintain joint health and improve flexibility. It can help you avoid injury and improve the quality of your life. They are especially beneficial to wheelchair users and people who use mobility devices.

Flexibility decreases with age with a reduction of collagen and elastin in our tendons and muscles, a loss of water in tissues, and spine and joint stiffness,” said Dr. Harpal Bains, a longevity doctor and medical director at Harpal Clinic. “Researchers found that there is a loss of 6 degrees of flexibility in the shoulder and hip joints per decade from the age of 55. Stretching during your exercise routine improves the circulation and, in turn, contributes to better cardiovascular function.”

You may have been a runner, loved aerobics classes or cycled when you were younger. But looking toward other fitness options is essential; our needs change as our bodies mature!

While our bodies physically peak when we are younger, it’s never too late to see benefits from exercise. Exercise can slow down — and even reverse — negative aspects of physical and mental decline. Some exercises you may have brushed off when you were younger are now exceptionally beneficial. Balancing on one foot, for instance, can help you balance more overall and help prevent dangerous falls. Repetitive sitting down and standing up from a chair without holding onto the arms can help you gain lower body strength

It’s never too late to start,” said Steve Di Ciacca, a physical therapist and program manager at the Canadian Centre for Activity and Aging. “If we decide ‘it’s 60, we want to do something about it,’ we can actually reverse a significant amount of that decline.”

By performing the right exercises as we age, we can have excellent health at any age. You just need to speak to a health professional who knows your medical history and goals to find the best combination!

Banner image: Anna Shvets via Pexels

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