Exercise benefits for seniors: why is it important for older adults to exercise?

Older adults may think there’s no need to go to the gym and train, but in reality, exercise can help with developing our physical function, muscle strength and mental capacity. Unfortunately, only 27% of older adults in Australia are meeting recommended physical activity guidelines of 150mins of moderate-high intensity physical activity per week. Specifically for older adults, why is exercise important and how is it meaningful to your life?

Here are the 3 main reasons why:

  1. Muscle Wasting

Muscle wasting is known as Sarcopenia which is defined as an age related, involuntary loss of skeletal muscle mass and strength. It is also a risk‐factor for reduced life expectancy among older adults. Evidence suggests that up to 50% of muscle mass is lost by the time you are 80 years old. This can lead to reduction in functional capacity and independence with every day activities including walking, household duties, cleaning and gardening. Targeted strength training can help reduce the rate of muscle mass wasting and in turn enhance physical function.

  1. Cardio-metabolic Health

Our cardio-metabolic health encompasses the function of our heart, blood and circulation system. Declined cardio-metabolic health can contribute to health conditions such as heart disease, stroke, high cholesterol and diabetes. It is heavily supported by evidence that exercise can reduce the risk of these conditions, thereby, increasing health span and improving our physical function. It has been shown that regular exercise can reduce blood sugar levels which is important for individuals who have Type 2 Diabetes.

  1. Osteoporosis and Falls

Osteoporosis is a long-term disease which involves a reduction in our bone mass. This makes our bones more susceptible to bone fractures in the event of a fall. Nearly 1 in 3 older Australians have experienced a fall in the past 12 months. This becomes a leading concern for older adults. Bone fractures can compromise a person’s ability to walk, increase pain and inactivity, and significantly lower quality of life. Exercise, especially high-impact and high intensity resistance training, can play a role in strengthening our bones, increasing muscle strength and mass which can keep us moving and enjoying life for longer. Regular strength and balance training can also reduce the risk of falling and potentially bone fractures. More than 85% of hip fractures occur in people older than 65. Age-related decline characterized by reduced coordination, vision, balance, and reaction time can be modified with tailored exercise.

Ultimately, it is important for older adults to stay active because improved physical functioning can enable greater social and mental wellbeing.

To gain more insights on the current physical activity guidelines for older adults, read this article

For further information about healthy ageing and exercising, speak to a health professional at UniquePhysio by calling 9709 2803.

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