As you age, staying active is important for your health and wellbeing. But your routine doesn’t have to be overly strenuous to make an impact. You can boost the health benefits by increasing the frequency or duration of exercise, making it easier to create routines that work best for you during different phases of life. Here, St. Barnabas Health System explores the physical and mental health benefits of fitness.

Physical Benefits of Exercise

Sometimes, the best medicine is a wellness program rooted in prevention. As you age, exercise can play a role in decreasing your risk for falls, bone fractures, and other health issues down the road. A regular exercise routine can impact your body in several positive ways, such as:

  • Heart health
  • Weight management
  • Digestive health
  • Bone mass
  • Muscle strength
  • Balance and coordination

In terms of your health as a whole, staying active can help prevent many common diseases. It supports a healthy immune system, which is important for seniors. It also helps you maintain your stamina and independence as you age, making it easier for you to continue to do the hobbies and everyday activities that make your life feel fulfilling.

Exercising for Mental Wellness

Did you know the benefits of exercise go far beyond physical fitness? Maintaining a regular exercise routine can improve your mental health, keeping feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression at bay. Other cognitive benefits of an active lifestyle include:

  • Better sleep: Quality sleep is important for your mental wellbeing at any age. With regular exercise, your body can fall asleep quicker and easier. It also fosters deeper sleep that leaves you feeling more rested in the morning.
  • Positive moods: Exercise releases endorphins, which are powerful chemicals in the brain that create positive feelings. If you’re looking for an activity that can help lift your spirits and increase your self-confidence, exercise is a great place to start.
  • Enhanced brain function: The endorphins released during physical activity also aid in mental focus and sharpness. Exercise has also been known to increase the growth of new brain cells. This can help prevent age-related decline, as well as memory loss. It may also help slow the progression of certain brain conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

One of the best things about exercise is that you don’t have to do it alone. Fitness classes and daily walks can also provide opportunities for social engagement, making it easier for you to combat feelings of loneliness and isolation. Whether you’re out for a daily walk or going to the gym, connect with like-minded members of your community who are also striving to improve their health.

Making Exercise Easier as You Age

One of the biggest myths of exercise is that it will lead to pain and joint discomfort down the road. While this is a valid concern for many aging adults, it doesn’t have to be the reality. Studies have shown that more movement can lead to less pain and better joint function. Additionally, there are many low-impact exercises you can do that are easy on your joints, making physical fitness more enjoyable as you age. Some low-impact exercises include:

  • Walking
  • Aquatic exercise
  • Sitting or chair exercises
  • Weight or resistance band exercises
  • Yoga
  • Pilates

Explore the Resources at St. Barnabas Health System

As you age, an active lifestyle is more important than ever. Remember to consult your doctor before starting a new exercise routine to ensure the activities you choose are the ideal ones for your unique health needs. Serving greater Pittsburgh, including Allegheny, Beaver, and Butler counties, St. Barnabas Health System offers a variety of resources for aging seniors who are looking to find ways to live fuller, healthier lives. Contact us today for more information.

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