Six Hidden Benefits Of Exercise For Seniors

Updated on October 5, 2017

Most people know that moderate physical exercise, like yoga or brisk walking, has tremendous physical benefits. As a matter of fact, just ten minutes of brisk walking a day raises life expectancy by as much as two years.

There’s more good news. The moderate exercise that has physical benefits also has some plusses that you may not have considered. Hopefully, one or more of them will get you motivated to get out and walk or otherwise increase your activity level. There are other obstacles to activity as well, such as arthritis pain, but that shouldn’t keep you sedentary either. To see the best arthritis knee sleeves, click here.

Lower Stress

Whoever said that a retiree’s life is easy and carefree was obviously not retired. Even though the days of punching a timeclock and raising children are gone, stresses still abound.

Physical exercise triggers norepinephrine release. This chemical does not eliminate stress, but it does soften the body’s reaction to the stressful situation. Norepinephrine has a positive effect on other body functions as well, such as blood sugar levels, the immune system, and blood pressure.

Better Mood

Moderate physical activity increases endorphin production, and these hormones create a sense of calm and well-being. The effect is strong enough to not only improve mood, but actually reverse it. In fact, there is some evidence that moderate exercise is as effective as antidepressants, even among patients who are clinically depressed.

The high is almost as addictive as heroin, which means that after a few exercise sessions, you may become chemically addicted to the activity, which is one reason exercise gets easier the more you do.

Improved Self-Confidence

Let’s face it. We all have parts of our bodies that we try to hide. That could be a few extra pounds around the midsection or flabby thighs. Although moderate exercise will not instantly transform these areas, it will not take long for the moderate exercise to make a noticeable difference, especially as you look in the mirror. Whether anyone else notices or not does not matter, because you’ll see the difference, and everyone else will notice your improved outlook and noticeable uptick in self-confidence.

Improved Cognitive Function

Exercise is not a “cure” for dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, but it does help protect the hippocampus from shrinking, and hippocampal atrophy is one of the precursor conditions to these more serious cognitive conditions. This atrophy usually begins at about age 45 and progressively increases over time, and physical exercise can either slow down this process or maybe even stop it entirely.

Furthermore, according to some animal studies, moderate exercise triggers neurogenesis, which means that it actually creates new brain cells. If the same thing occurs in humans, the exercise-brain health link might be stronger than anyone imagined.

Reduced Anxiety

Just like exercise almost literally burns stress away, it may also burn away anxiety. In fact, according to some, twenty minutes of moderate exercise might be more relaxing than twenty minutes in a hot bath. If nothing else, the activity takes your mind of whatever is making you anxious, and those few minutes might be sufficient to get your brain off the negative track, at least for a few hours.

Chemical Rewards

All forms of pleasure, be it exercise, sex, alcohol, or whatever, trigger a dopamine release. While not enough to overcome a chemical addiction, exercise may release enough dopamine to at least disrupt addiction’s effects. Moreover, exercise also helps firmly establish the body’s circadian rhythm, so alcohol and other substance addicts can get more rest.

Moderate exercise is its own reward, and those rewards are not always physically evident. But once your brain gets a taste of them, you will probably come back for more.


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