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Benefits of Regular Exercise for Seniors

min read

By Eric Leckie, PT

Participating in daily exercise is an excellent strategy to help you age successfully. I think it’s safe to say that nobody enjoys the thought of growing weak and frail as you age, taking away from your independence and mobility. Exercise is often thought of as an activity for the young and mobile, however, its benefits for seniors are much more profound.

If done correctly, regular exercise can help keep you fit, strong, independent, and maintain a high quality of life as you age. Here are some of the top benefits of regular exercise for seniors.

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Maintaining Strong Joints

The key to maintaining strong joints is by moving them as often as possible in a way that does not cause pain. You might think that rest is the best thing for someone with joint pain so as to not cause more damage, but actually that’s incorrect! The secret is finding an exercise type that doesn’t place a lot of stress on the joints, but still moves them in the way they were designed to be moved.

Exercises such as swimming, walking, yoga and tai chi are excellent options that will help you move your joints and strengthen them at the same time. This can all occur without causing more pain. Arthritis can creep in with age but this is no excuse to stop exercising. Seek out advice from a physiotherapist who can help with tips on how to properly move and strengthen your joints. You’ll be able to live pain free, keep your mobility, and as a result maintain your independence for many years to come.

Building Strong Muscles

When I think of successful aging, I think of someone using exercise to build and maintain strong and healthy muscles. Having strong muscles can mean the difference between only being able to complete a 10-minute walk versus an hour long walk or getting off a chair or couch independently versus needing assistance. Using exercise to build strong muscles is going to help you keep doing all the things you love like playing with your grandchildren, gardening, and walking, with minimal discomfort and pain. The key to doing this is to build muscle strength.

The best way to build up your muscle strength is to participate in activities such as: swimming, step classes at your local gym, weight lifting exercise program, body pump class or a resistance-based home exercise program.

Heart and Lung Health

As you age, you will almost inevitably develop some health conditions and limitations. These health conditions can be things such as heart and lung issues. The best way to make sure that your heart and lungs are getting the care they need is by exercising every day. Even getting out for a brisk walk is enough to raise your heart rate and increase your breathing.

Similar to our muscles and joints, our organs, like the heart and lungs, need to be exercised in order to ensure optimal function. You rely on your heart to supply your body with fresh oxygenated blood and for the lungs to breathe and oxygenate the blood that is going to your heart for distribution around your body. The best exercises to improve your heart and lung health is are walking, jogging, swimming, weight lifting, and yoga. Basically any form of exercise that gets your heart rate up and makes you breathe a bit harder.

Be sure to speak to your doctor to ensure it’s safe for you to start exercising.

Managing Chronic Conditions

Chronic conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and arthritis tend to creep up on us as we age. These conditions can put a big damper on everyday life and may likely require a lot of medications. Some can even impact our mobility and independence. Thankfully, almost every chronic disease can be successfully managed with exercise. You might have to continue taking medications, but exercise can help you to regain your mobility and regain control of your health.

Completing cardiovascular exercise such as walking, swimming, cycling and jogging will help you actively manage many of your chronic conditions for years to come. Be sure to check in with your doctor and physiotherapist to see what types of exercise is the most appropriate for you and your situation.

Regardless of your age, mobility status, or chronic condition, exercise should be a daily activity you complete. Exercising is the one thing you can control daily that will help you feel and live better. Just because you’re aging does not mean that you have to stop doing the things that you once loved to do. Book in with your local physiotherapist and let them help build you a personally tailored exercise plan that helps you achieve your fitness and life goals. Remember, it’s never too late to start exercising!

DPT, Doctor of Physiotherapy

Eric Leckie is a men's health Physiotherapist specializing in prostate cancer treatment. He completed his studies in Australia earning his Doctor of Physiotherapy from the University of Melbourne. He currently works in a private practice, in addition to owning his own Telehealth Physiotherapy clinic which focuses on treating men with prostate cancer.



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