Going out for a jog, pumping some iron at the gym, and going for a brisk swim are all excellent exercises for seniors. Some of you may not be able to do all of these, but doing what you can—perhaps by adapting exercise to fit your ability—benefits your health. Here’s a brief guide to some of the exercise benefits for seniors.
Exercising Increases Independence
First, exercise promotes sustained independence into your later years. As you engage in core muscle exercises or hit the trail for a run, you build up your muscle strength and stabilize your body. This muscular stability may delay your need for walking assistance and lengthen the amount of time you can freely go without the help of others. As you go about your life, your risk of a sudden fall also goes down due to your body’s continued ability to react and stop you from falling. Consistently exercising also promotes bone density, which lessens your chance for a break that may force you to become dependent on others for a time.
It Can Improve Bladder Function
Another exercise benefit for seniors, not unrelated to maintaining independence, is exercise’s ability to improve bladder function. Just as maintaining your muscles promotes stability and prevents a fall, keeping muscles strong also prevents an accidental loss of bladder control. Kegel exercises specifically target bladder function; they involve tensing and relaxing pelvic muscles for several repetitions each day.
Some seniors with existing bladder issues may not have the confidence to exercise consistently, but starting slow and gradually ramping up allows you to experience the benefits of exercise.
It Strengthens the Immune System
Exercise also generally strengthens seniors’ immune systems. The immune system is multifaceted, and there are clear links between exercise and immune health. This means that exercise helps you avoid getting sick in some cases and promotes your recovery from any sickness you do come down with. The reason for this isn’t totally clear, but one hypothesis is that increased circulation during strenuous activity improves the transport of illness-fighting white blood cells and nutrients.
In addition, there’s likely a connection between emotional health and immune function. Because exercise releases endorphins that improve and stabilize emotional health, seniors’ immune health also gets a boost through this mechanism.