The old cliche if you do not use it you lose it is definitely true when it comes to the benefits of exercise for aging adults. As the New York Times Well Blog explains, a large number of studies in the past few years showed that after age 40, people typically lose 8 percent or more of their muscle mass each decade, a process that accelerates significantly after age 70. Less muscle mass generally means less strength, mobility and among the elderly, independence. But those losses and increased frailty do not occur to the same rapid and debilitating degree for those who exercise regularly. Runners in their 60’s have been shown in studies to have the same muscle mass and motor function of runners in their 40’s.
Even if you are not athletic, and have never made exercise a part of your routine before, you can still benefit from starting a more active lifestyle now. No matter your physical condition, simply moving more can slow the effects of memory loss, and positively impact degenerative conditions like osteoporosis, high blood pressure, and more. Studies show that those with challenges like Alzheimer’s exercise– important information for those looking into memory care options or other personal care.
The parts of everyday life that were becoming and increasing challenges such as lifting laundry baskets or heavy sacks from the supermarket can become more manageable again by working on strength training, balance, and endurance. That’s important even for those in independent living or retirement communities where many day to day chores are taken care of.
Many people of all ages do not pick up an exercise habit because they feel it will be boring, uncomfortable, or time consuming. Staying active as you age does not have to be any of these things. Whether you live at home or in a senior living community, staying active can be a great way to enjoy simple pleasures in life and the company of others.
Try going for a walk around your neighborhood, joining a senior yoga class or water aerobics session, gardening with friends, or working with a physical therapist or trainer once or twice a week if you are concerned about injury or strain. Riverwood Retirement offers both exercise classes and equipment that can be used as residents please. Dedicating even a small amount of time and effort will open up other areas of your life in unexpected ways!