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Why regular exercise is so important for seniors

Photo by Wave Break Media.

In the popular imagination, the senior years are a time to relax and let life drift by. After a lifetime of hard work, isn’t the point of retirement to take it easy? But becoming less active during the senior years is a bad plan.

If anything, the free time of retirement should represent an opportunity to exercise more, not less. Deciding to work out regularly, even after years of inactivity, is one of the best decisions an older person can make.

The reason can be summed up in one word: aging.

Aging, of course, is inevitable, but not how the body ages. Instead of a precipitous decline, a gradual, graceful aging process is possible. It’s simple common sense to slow aging as much as possible.

That’s where regular exercise comes in. Working out often, alongside a good diet, is the cornerstone of retaining physical capacities and a good quality of life deep into the senior years. Exercise makes the worst effects of aging less likely.

For example, falls and broken bones are a common problem for seniors. Serious falls can precipitate a rapid physical decline because a broken bone often reduces mobility. Regular workouts, however, keep bones strong and maintain coordination and balance, thus reducing the risk for falls.

Another example is the quick decline in strength that occurs if a senior does no strength training. A relatively strong, capable body makes many normal, common actions and movements easier. Think of lifting an object, completing outdoor chores, or simply sitting and standing with proper posture. A weak body makes everyday life much more fatiguing and can lower the quality of life.

One of the most important ways that regular workouts address the risks of aging is by shoring up heart health, thereby mitigating the risk of heart attack. During aerobic exercise, the entire cardiovascular system is put through its paces. The heart pumps hard to send oxygen to the muscles, enabling movement. This process makes the heart and the cardiovascular system more capable, significantly reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke.


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