active aging

Active Aging: How to Improve Physical Health as You Age

At EPIC Primary Care, we have seen that as people age, they tend to become more sedentary; this could be due to several reasons like the fear of injury, health problems, increased weight, and body aches. Often, many seniors also start feeling that there is no point in exercising as they are old and in poor health anyway. But in fact, by exercising, seniors can actually improve their health and feel better too, and we always advise our senior patients to get moving for their health.

What are the benefits of exercise for older adults?

Studies have found that physical activity contributes significantly to longevity and can add years to your life, even if you only start working out when you are a senior. Being active is not only about living longer, but living better and healthier. Seniors who exercise feel more energetic and experience emotional well-being as well.

Physical health benefits

Weight loss

Working out helps senior adults lose weight and maintain optimal weight. Your metabolism slows down naturally with advancing age, and maintaining an ideal weight can get quite difficult. By exercising, you can increase your metabolism, build muscle mass, and burn more calories.

Lower impact of illnesses and chronic conditions

Senior adults who exercise regularly are more likely to have stronger immunity, better digestion, stable blood pressure, better bone density, and a lowered risk of diseases like diabetes, obesity, Alzheimer’s, osteoporosis, and even certain cancers.

Improved mobility

Exercise helps improve strength, flexibility, posture, and mobility, eventually leading to improved balance and coordination, and a reduced risk of falls. Symptoms of chronic conditions like arthritis can be alleviated through strength training.

Mental health benefits

Better sleep

Good sleep is important for every human being regardless of age, for optimal health; especially so for senior adults. Regular exercise can help you sleep better – fall asleep quickly, experience deeper sleep, and wake up feeling refreshed.

Improved Mood

Working out releases endorphins – called the feel good hormones – they help to relieve stress and the feelings of sadness, anxiety, depression, and so on. When you are active, you feel stronger and more self-confident.

Improved brain function

While it’s true that solving puzzles and playing word games is beneficial for your brain, physical exercise can do a lot more. Working out can help your brain with multitasking, be more creative, prevent loss of memory, improve cognitions, and keep dementia at bay. Increased physical activity can even help to slow down the progression of certain brain disorders.

Physical Activities Ideal for Senior Adults

At EPIC Primary care, we advise our senior patients that it is important to mix up your exercise routine, and include different types of exercises as each activity provides its own unique benefits. Remember that the 4 important elements of fitness should be covered by the activities that you choose.

1: Balance

Maintaining stability when you are stationary or moving is what balance is all about. Yoga, posture improvement exercises and Tai Chi can help in this regard; they can help you improve your posture and the quality of your walking in addition to helping you maintain balance and reduce the risk of falling.

2: Cardio

Cardio exercises make use of large muscle groups in rhythmic motions for a period, and aim to give your heart a good workout – you are likely to feel a little breathless at first. Eventually, you may notice less breathlessness and fatigue and improved endurance for doing your daily chores like shopping for groceries, cleaning and dusting your house, or even walking. Ideal activities include: walking, jogging, climbing stairs, swimming, cycling, tennis, and dancing.

3: Strength and power training

These types of exercises help to build muscle through repetitive motion either with weights or external resistance from elastic bands, weights, or body weight. Power training is basically strength training performed at high speed for increasing power and reaction times. Strength training can help you retain bone mass and build muscle, and also helps to improve your balance. With power training, you can improve your walking and reaction speed, and perform everyday activities much more easily.

4: Flexibility

This group of exercises helps you increase the range of motion of your body joints. It can help you stay limber and have better movement range for routine physical activities like tying shoes, playing with your grandkids and shampooing your hair; it can also help to keep your muscles and joints supple, and protect them from injuries. Yoga and stretches are the best means to achieve greater flexibility. Water aerobics or other water exercises are also very helpful in this regard.

Many activities including yoga, Tai Chi, aerobics, and swimming are often offered especially to seniors at community centers. Joining such classes can keep you motivated as well as provide some enjoyment and stress relief, and a place to make and meet friends.

How EPIC Primary Care Can Help Senior Adults Live healthier

There is no doubt that getting active is one of the best decisions you can take in your older years; however, you need to be sure to do it safely. At EPIC, we advise our senior adult patients to proceed with exercise only after getting a clearance from one of our physicians.

Our in-house exercise physiologist works with every individual patient to create a customized exercise plan; he can tell you what activities you can safely perform and what you need to avoid, depending on your current health status, age, and health goals.

The exercise physiologist can also help you understand the impact of exercises on your body, how you can track your progress at home, and answer any queries you may have. You will be guided on how to start small and build up in increments, including warm up and cool down exercises to prevent injury and discomfort.

 If you have any chronic conditions like diabetes or heart disease, you may be required to adjust the timing of your meals and medications when you set up your daily exercise schedule.

Our in-house certified dietician can help you with planning your meals, portion sizes, healthy alternatives to foods that you need to avoid, and so on. Along with exercise, following the right diet is also important to not only maintain a healthy weight, but to enjoy overall good health.

At EPIC Primary Care, we also provide other senior care services like:

  • Management of chronic conditions
  • Immunizations
  • Transportation service – pickup and drop between home and care center
  • Medicine management
  • Physical therapy

A word of caution: It is important that you listen to your body and stop exercising if you feel terrible, or have hurt yourself; dizziness, pain, pressure, cold sweat, chest pain, swelling or tenderness during exercise should always be considered as a warning sign to stop immediately.

Consult your EPIC Primary care physician as soon as you can. You can schedule a same-day appointment, or just walk into our centers at Detroit, Ferndale or Southfield for immediate consultation.

The Advanced Care Team model of healthcare at EPIC Primary Care ensures that every senior adult receives overall care and attention – as our entire team consisting of physician, nurse, dietitian, exercise physiologist, diagnostics technicians, assistants, and pharmacist work together to help them achieve optimal health.

 If you found the information in this article valuable, do share it on your social media accounts to help your friends and family enjoy the benefits of Active Aging. If you have anything to share with regard to this, do feel free to mention it in the comments. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn for more tips and tricks related to health and well-being.

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