Americans are living longer than their grandparents, but not necessarily in better health. Many older adults have multiple chronic conditions, such as Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, osteoarthritis or cancer. While advances in medicines are making it easier for seniors to manage common chronic conditions, there are many things you can do to help yourself age well. Two of the most important things you can do to reduce the risk of developing health problems are staying physically and socially active.
How much exercise do you need?
Experts recommend older adults get at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity. Brisk walking, riding a bike, water aerobics, dancing, golf (if you walk the course), tennis and gardening are all good ways to get your heart pumping. In addition to aerobic activity, older adults should also include muscle-strengthening activities, such as weightlifting or body-weight exercises, at least two days a week.
It’s important to stay connected.
For many older adults, staying connected and engaged isn’t as easy as it used to be. But the benefits are too great to ignore. Positive social interactions for seniors boost mood, reduce stress, prevent cognitive decline, and help increase longevity. So when you’re out for a walk, say hello to people you meet. Meet friends for coffee or lunch. Join a group that shares a hobby or activity you enjoy. Or get involved in volunteer activities. Making the effort to enjoy a more active social life is good for your health.
7 health benefits of active aging
Here are some of the key benefits of staying active as you age:
- Protects you from common illnesses. Studies show that seniors who are socially active have healthier immune systems. Maintaining a healthy immune system can help you fight off common illnesses such as colds and flu, which can lead to serious complications like pneumonia.
- Keeps your heart healthy. Regular activity can help you maintain a healthy weight and improve circulation, decreasing the risk of developing high blood pressure and cardiovascular diseases.
- Boosts your mood. Maintaining friendships and getting regular exercise can help reduce stress and prevent depression. Participating in group activities can help prevent feelings of isolation, particularly in seniors who live alone.
- Provides a sense of purpose. Regularly engaging in social and physical activities gives you something to look forward to. Something as simple as challenging yourself to join a new senior-friendly exercise class or as involved as mastering a new hobby can provide a sense of purpose and boost self-esteem.
- Reduces risk of falling. Falls are the number one cause of injury among seniors. Hip fractures and traumatic brain injuries are the most common injuries. Regular exercise can help prevent falls and fractures. Balance exercises will strengthen your muscles, improve coordination, and quicken reaction time.
- May help you live longer. Studies show that physical activity increases life expectancy by up to 6.9 years. Staying social as you age may also help you live longer. Both can help you live each day more fully.
- Decreases risk of cognitive decline. Numerous studies have shown a link between staying active and cognitive health. Keeping your mind and body active, and staying connected, may also reduce the risk for Alzheimer’s disease.
We’re built to support a healthy lifestyle.
Opportunities to lead an active lifestyle are built into every Heritage Senior Living community. Fitness programs, social events and engaging activities fill our calendar. To learn how we can help you or a loved one live healthier and happier, get in touch. Aging well is what we’re all about.