Exercise provides health benefits for people of all ages, but it is especially important to stay active as we get older. For many people, maintaining a good quality of life is important as they get older, and exercise is a critical factor in maintaining independence and activity as we age.
These are some of the top benefits of continuing to exercise as you get older.
1. It can help to build bone and muscle mass.
We tend to lose bone and muscle mass as we age. Loss of bone mass can lead to osteoporosis, which increases your risk of fractures. Loss of muscle mass can lead to back pain or osteoarthritis. If you exercise regularly, you can build up muscle mass and strengthen your bones.
2. It can improve joint and muscle pain.
If you have a condition like arthritis that causes joint or muscle pain, you might be inclined to cut back on activity, but that can actually make your pain worse. If you have arthritis, lack of activity can weaken the muscles surrounding the affected joint, which can lead to instability. Physical activity can strengthen your joints and the surrounding muscles, relieving stiffness, reducing pain, and increasing range of motion. Exercise can also help with back pain by strengthening the muscles in the core, hips, and thighs, all of which play a part in supporting the back.
3. Even moderate activity can improve your health.
You don’t need to keep up a strenuous exercise routine to see improvement. Just 30 minutes of moderate physical activity a day can make a difference. It makes your lungs, heart, and muscles work a little harder than they do during normal activities, which can lower your risk of heart disease, lower your blood pressure, control diabetes, and help you maintain a healthy weight. If you can’t do 30 minutes of activity all at once to start off with, try breaking it up into smaller segments--every little bit adds up.
4. It reduces your risk of injury.
Regular exercise improves your flexibility, balance, and mobility, which reduces your chance of falling and breaking a bone. Stretching also helps to reduce tightness and stiffness in the muscles, which can reduce your risk of injury during physical activity and decrease muscle soreness. Regular activity is especially critical if you have had joint replacement surgery--weakened muscles increase your risk of falling, which could result in the need for additional surgery if the artificial joint is damaged.
5. It can help you stay active and independent longer.
You have to get active now to stay active later in life. Exercise helps your body stay strong and healthy as you get older. Even if you aren’t active now, it’s never too late to get started. Try to incorporate a combination of aerobic exercise, stretching, and strength training for the best results. If you have any conditions like arthritis or osteoporosis, you can ask your doctor about specific exercises that can help with your condition.
Don’t let inactivity keep you from enjoying a good quality of life as you get older. Try out different activities and find out which ones you like to do so you’ll be more likely to keep it up. If you haven’t exercised in awhile, you may be a little sore at first, but you’ll be glad you started exercising in the long run when you start to see the benefits.