We live in an aging society, we’re living young and dying at a ripe old age, so it should come as no surprise that fitness programs for older adults are on the rise. Staying fit as you age is beneficial for numerous reasons including slowing down aging, improving cognitive function, flexibility and preventing injury. So if you’re over 50 and itching to move your body, here’s why we think that’s a great idea.
A study published by the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry evaluated the effects of exercise on the aging process in older adults. The randomized clinical trial (the gold standard of research) found that endurance training for three hours per week was associated with a more stable cognitive status and fewer signs of aging, after one year. So you’ll be fitter AND smarter than your peers, win.
Another benefit of exercise for older adults is that it reduces oxidative stress, a key marker for aging. A study that examined this found that moderate exercise reduces oxidative stress and extends life span. This research, amongst others, prove that exercise has notable benefits for neuro and physical degeneration.
As you get older, neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s can be a real concern. Some research has found that maintaining a consistent exercise routine is linked to a lower risk of developing these conditions.
A randomized controlled trial conducted in five nursing homes with patients suffering from Alzheimer’s found that a targeted exercise program resulted in a slower decline. A systematic review published in 2008 concluded that exercise is integral to not only managing and slowing down cognitive decline but also to ultimately prevent it from occurring. Not to scare you, but these are real diseases that affect us as we age. Take action today to prevent it, or at least slow it down.
When you look at other aspects of cognitive performance, like social connectedness and general quality of life, exercise also plays a key role. A study that examined this put one group of older adults in an exercise group and the other as a non-exercise control and found that the exercise group was significantly happier by the end of the study.
So mentally exercise is beneficial, it improves cognitive function, reduces your risk of developing a neurodegenerative disease like Alzheimer’s and it makes you feel happier and more connected. Need any more benefits? Ok sure, here’s what it does to your physical health.
Regular resistance training for older adults has been shown in research to improve muscle strength and maximal oxygen consumption, a key marker for cardiovascular fitness. Exercise also reduces the risk and progression of chronic disease and disabling conditions that are present with an inactive lifestyle, like type 2 diabetes and injuries.
Injuries are more common in older adults and can be disabling conditions. A study that asked older adults with osteoarthritis of the knee to engage in a physical activity intervention found that symptoms of their condition were greatly reduced in a workout program specifically designed for the older generation.
So it’s pretty safe to say that when an older adult regularly and consistently engages in a fitness program carefully curated for their needs and requirements, they are likely to see a range of life-changing benefits. No more convincing necessary, get yourself to the gym today.