Why Active Living Is Important for Older Adults

People of all ages need to prioritize physical fitness to live a long and healthy life. A great way to maintain a good fitness level is to exercise regularly, which will keep you in good shape now and greatly benefit you as you age.

As adults grow older, maintaining a physically active lifestyle becomes even more critical, as it can greatly impact their mental health, physical well-being and overall quality of life. Fortunately, keeping fit is made feasible by the many resources found in retirement communities.

Retirement communities such as Seasons Retirement Communities greatly emphasize their residents’ physical well-being, ensuring they provide the proper amenities and tools to maintain physical fitness. 

So, why is active living so crucial for older adults? Below, we’ll examine a few benefits of staying active as an older person in more detail, so keep reading to learn more!

Improves cognitive function

One of the biggest draws to integrating physical activity into an older person’s daily routine is its positive impact on cognitive function. Studies have revealed that older adults who engage in low-impact exercises regularly are at a lower risk of succumbing to dementia and other memory loss issues.

Also, exercise assists in improving a person’s attention deficit, making it easier for older adults to retain their focus and remain clear-minded when performing tasks, reading, talking with friends or doing brain teasers. 

Further, improved cognitive function can help older adults make sound decisions, stay productive, and use critical thinking skills. 

Enhances balance and flexibility

Many older adults struggle with maintaining balance and flexibility, often resulting in accidents such as tripping or falling. Such accidents can cause serious injuries, like head traumas, which can seriously impede an older person’s mobility and independence.

However, exercises like cross-crawl, pilates/yoga, light cardio and light weight training can significantly enhance the strength of an older adult’s muscles and core, improving their flexibility and agility. 

Not only will their balance improve, thereby reducing their risk of falls, but should they suffer such an accident, the training from their exercise routine may lessen the impact due to their improved strength and resilience.   

Prevents autoimmune diseases

Daily exercise is known to improve a person’s health in both the long and short term. Keeping active can help the body avoid common ailments such as colds, flu, strep throat and other minor illnesses.

Further, regular exercise can also prevent the appearance of long-term diseases such as diabetes, which often become more life-threatening as a person ages. 

To fend off such ailments, older adults only need to regularly engage in light exercise, such as going on nature walks or using a treadmill/walking pad for a few minutes daily.

Helps relieve symptoms of physical ailments

While older adults cannot always prevent the development of certain physical ailments, there are many ways they can relieve the symptoms and find some relief daily, with exercise being one of the most straightforward and accessible solutions.

In addition to relieving symptoms, exercise can also slow down the onset of certain illnesses and their side effects. Many issues like diabetes, heart disease, joint and muscle pain and respiratory issues can be major barriers to a person’s life, lessening their independence and enjoyment of many daily tasks. 

However, while specific issues may be chronic or unavoidable, with lightweight exercise, older adults can regain their ability to perform certain activities, improve their mood, and regain some of their independence.

Improves mental health

One of the most valuable improvements older adults will see from regular exercise is their emotional and mental health. 

Regular physical activity is often prescribed to individuals who deal with anxiety, depression, OCD, ADHD and other mental health issues, as the endorphins released during exercise act as a stress reliever, directly affecting the brain, resulting in increased feelings of satisfaction and happiness. 

For many older adults, their mental health may continue to decline as they age, but treating these issues with moderate exercise can help to relieve the symptoms of these problems.

Furthermore, regular exercise is excellent for improving a person’s sleep cycle, something that individuals with anxiety and depression often struggle with. As their sleep improves, so will their mood. 

An opportunity for socializing

Finally, another benefit to living an active lifestyle in retirement is the opportunity for socialization. Most retirement communities offer exercise classes and walking groups on their activities roster, and many come equipped with a community gym where residents can exercise with others. 

Joining a walking group is an excellent way for older adults to spend time with their friends while taking in nature and getting their steps in, while a class like Jazzercise gives friends a chance to try something new together and hold each other accountable. 

Joining an exercise class with others can improve an older adult’s mental and emotional state and physical well-being. They are getting the benefits of endorphins from their exercise and serotonin from spending time with like-minded people!  

Final thoughts 

Active living is vital to an older person’s long and healthy life. As we age, it’s expected that we’ll develop certain ailments, from muscle and joint pain to more serious diseases like dementia. While these issues cannot always be prevented, maintaining an active lifestyle through regular exercise can improve them and greatly reduce their side effects.

It’s important to note that some exercise programs may be too rigorous for adults in their later retirement years. Therefore, it’s recommended that older adults and their families discuss possible exercise options with their physician to see what works best for their fitness level.