You’ve probably heard by now, more than once or twice, that working out is good for your body and your brain. But, as you age, working out carries greater risks than it did in your youth. Not only will your need for good physical fitness continue to exist, but the risks associated with exercising and traditional gym workouts will increase as well.
It’s a good idea to explore the pros and cons of working out as a senior before you decide if you should and what type of exercise regimen is best for you.
Benefits of Exercising as You Age
What many people don’t realize is that your needs for exercise actually grow as you age. In fact, many medical conditions commonly associated with aging can be improved with regular exercise, according to Aging Care. These conditions include:
- Alzheimer’s Disease
- Colon Cancer
- Heart Disease
- High Blood Pressure
Beyond these benefits, though, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises that there are many benefits to regular exercise for older adults, including:
- Improving balance.
- Building confidence.
- Fostering feelings of well-being.
- Increasing stamina.
- Reducing inflammation.
- Strengthening bones.
Perhaps the biggest benefit of exercising for those who are aging is one that isn’t discussed very often, but it highly important to people who are aging. It prolongs your independence. The more things you can do on your own – and continue to do on your own – the better it is for your overall quality of life. After all, a good, long life is about so much more than the number of years. It’s about how much living you pack into those years.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends adults over the age of 65 participate in 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activities throughout the week in rounds lasting at least 10 minutes.
You may have been convinced that because you didn’t exercise in your youth, it’s too late to get started now. CBS News recently reported that this is not the case. In fact, one study they reported on found that adults over the age of 64 who participated in moderate-to-vigorous levels of exercise at least one time a week were “three or four times more likely to remain healthy while aging” in comparison to those who engaged in no exercise.
Potential Cons of Exercising as an Older Adult
That being said, there are a few considerations to keep in mind as you explore your options for exercising as you age. Muscle pain and strain are chief among them. However, there are very real risks to consider, such as the risk of falling and breaking bones.
Your brain may believe you’re still 35, but your body has limitations it didn’t have in your youth and it is easy to overdo it. That is why engaging in supervised or group activities is highly beneficial to aging adults.
Keeping Your Fitness Routine Healthy
Of course, the first thing you need to do before beginning any fitness routine is consulting your physician to find out what kinds of activities are safe for you to do. Your personal physician knows you best and can offer advice and guidance about the types of exercise that will strengthen your core, improve your balance, build muscles, and will not put too much strain on your body or your heart.
Exercising with supervision is another great way to ensure that you have the greatest odds of success and that someone is available to assist you if necessary. If you live alone, consider joining a fitness club that offers aqua fitness classes for older adults. These classes offer aerobic activities that aren’t as jarring to your body as traditional aerobic exercises like jogging.
Consider other low-impact exercises if you have joint issues you’re hoping to work through like Tai Chi and yoga. In fact, yoga offers many benefits for healthy aging, including minimizing hypertension, strengthening bones, and promoting weight loss.
Remember, before you embark on any new fitness program, regardless of your age, inform your physician who can let you know if you have any restrictions or limitations to adhere to.