Benefits of Physical Activity for Older Adults

Diverse group of senior sitting in park after exercise

Whether you’ve been physically active most of your life or are just starting to exercise now in your senior years, the most important thing is to keep moving. 

  • Did you know seniors can actually reap more benefits from exercising than any other age group – physically and mentally – especially when paired with other healthy activities, like eating right and getting enough sleep?5

As you grow older, an active lifestyle becomes more important than ever to your health – and the benefits of seniors being active are vast.

Physical activity is the number one contributor to longevity. Exercises of all kinds can help you boost your energy, protect your heart, maintain your independence, manage your weight, reduce symptoms of illness or pain, and much more. 

Best of all, you don’t need to embark on a strenuous exercise program. Simple and enjoyable activities can be all you need to reap the physical and mental health benefits of exercise.

Continue reading to learn about the benefits of physical activity for older adults, great exercise ideas, and how an independent living community – like Rolling Green Village in Greenville, South Carolina – can help you stay active and make the most of the senior years

10 Benefits of Seniors Being Active

More than 50% of seniors spend at least 8.5 hours a day in a sedentary position.1

From health problems to weight or pain issues, or worries about falling, there are many reasons why we slow down and become more sedentary with age. But staying active and finding exercises or physical activities that work for you can put you in a position to achieve your best health as you get older.

Here are 10 key health benefits to seniors participating in regular fitness activities and upholding an active lifestyle: 

  1. Improves overall health 
  2. Helps manage body weight
  3. Increases health and strength
  4. Promotes heart and cardiovascular health
  5. Builds positive mental health
  6. Helps prevent falls
  7. Promotes consistent sleep patterns 
  8. Reduces hypertension 
  9. Improves social connectivity
  10. Helps maintain focus and increases energy levels

Additionally, being physically active can boost your flexibility, balance, posture, and strength. And a mix of cardiovascular workout, stretching, and strength training can enhance your mobility.1

Exercise and Physical Activity Ideas for Older Adults

Regardless of your age or physical condition, it’s never too late to start exercising. These ideas will help you get started and make it fun.

  • Swimming and Water Exercises 

There’s a good reason swimming and water-based exercises are considered ideal exercises as you age. Whether you’re performing the breaststroke, taking a water aerobics class, or playing with the grandkids, getting in the pool is a great way to increase your cardiovascular fitness while also strengthening your muscles and overall physical health. 

Swimming activities also put minimal stress on your bones and joints, which is a major plus for active adults who have arthritis or osteoporosis. Additionally, as if the physical benefits weren’t enough reason to jump in the pool, a 2012 study in the Journal of Aging Research suggests that swimming can also help aging adults keep their minds as sharp as their bodies.3

  • Dynamic Stretching Exercises 

Both static and dynamic stretching exercises are designed to stretch a group of muscles, but in a more active way. Essentially, this type of activity involves mimicking real-world movements while simultaneously stretching your muscles and getting your blood pumping. 

  • Dynamic stretching is an excellent way to improve your range of motion, as it focuses on stretching completely through a natural movement. 
  • Static stretching involves holding a stretch for 30 seconds or more and is focused on lengthening a specific muscle or group of muscles. The stretch is always held steadily, without any bouncing or pulling.4
  • Natural Body Weight Exercises 

Losing muscle and strength can be debilitating for aging adults. Studies have shown that about a third of seniors live with severe muscle loss, which can lead to hormone problems, a decrease in the ability to metabolize protein, and other physical health problems. 

Natural body weight workouts are one of the best ways to counteract the effects of muscle atrophy as you age. Additionally, one of the key benefits of body weight workouts is the affordability, since the materials required for body weight workouts are minimal. 

Most body weight workouts simply require workout clothes and a mat to soften the impact with the floor, allowing you get into the routine without any setbacks.3

How Much Should Seniors Exercise?

Many experts recommend you get about 30 minutes  of aerobic exercise each day. When done at a brisk pace, activities such as walking, jogging, swimming and cycling can contribute to getting your heart rate up and helping you increase your oxygen intake. 

For older lts who  are just getting started with a consistent exercise routine, it’s perfectly fine to spread the 30 minutes  of exercise out into three 10-minute sessions over the course of your day. It’s also good to remember that an ideal exercise program involves flexibility exercises, which help in promoting range of motion, reducing soreness, and preventing injury. 

If injuries or pre-existing conditions make impact activities painful, consider trying low-impact activities instead, such as cycling or swimming. After several weeks of maintaining a daily aerobic or cardio exercise routine, you’ll likely see an increase in fitness performance, as well as an increased ability to perform your daily tasks without getting as winded or tired.2

Above all, you should discuss any new exercise regimen with your health care provider.

Senior Living Communities like Rolling Green Village Can Help You Stay Active

Life at Rolling Green Village in Greenville, SC, is filled with on-site opportunities that allow you to engage in strength training and aerobic exercises, and socialize with neighbors and friends anytime you like. 

You choose what interests you, and do as much (or as little) as you like. Recharge your social batteries in the morning with a meetup for coffee in the café, or enjoy a low-key book club chat in the library.  Join in on water aerobic classes in the heated, indoor saltwater pool or take a solo trek on our hiking trails.

We offer an independent living lifestyle that empowers you to take charge of your wellness, build social connections, and create purpose in what you do. If you’re sensing this is an active, friendly retirement community – you’d be right.  We could tell you more, but we think it’s more fun if you see it all in person.  Contact us to schedule your visit.

Resources:

1 Northwest Primary Care. Tips from Our Physical Therapist for Every Age. Accessed April 14, 2022. https://www.nwpc.com/physical-therapy-tips-every-age-infographic/.

2 FamilyDoctor.org. Exercise and Seniors. Accessed April 14, 2022. https://familydoctor.org/exercise-seniors/.

3 National Institute on Aging. Fun Ways for Older Adults to Stay Physically Active. Accessed April 14, 2022. https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/fun-ways-older-adults-stay-physically-active.

4 Seniors Mobility. Functional Exercises for Seniors: 12 Best Functional Fitness Exercises for Seniors. Accessed April 14, 2022. https://seniorsmobility.org/exercises/functional-exercises-for-seniors/

5 National Council on Aging. The Life-Changing Benefits of Exercise After 60. Accessed April 14, 2022. https://www.ncoa.org/article/the-life-changing-benefits-of-exercise-after-60