When individuals get older, they tend to become less physically active. Hoping to avoid falls or injury, seniors often adopt a sedentary lifestyle, where the days of being physically active become distant memories. Recent studies, however, have shown that being physically active actually helps to slow the aging process and has a number of health benefits.
Be physically active for the benefits
A study by the National Institutes of Health showed that physical activity is safe for people of all ages. In fact, older adults hurt their health more when they aren't physically active. Strengthening your heart, lungs and muscles through exercise makes everyday activities like climbing stairs and grocery shopping easier. Regular exercise also helps reduce the risk of falling by improving balance and flexibility. It can even delay or stop the onset of disabilities and diseases.
Exercising can be fun
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that seniors engage in at least two and a half hours of moderately intense physical activity each week. This may seem like a chore, but there are many fun physical activities that seniors can enjoy:
Another great way for seniors to have fun while being physically active is by joining the SilverSneakers Fitness Program. It offers seniors membership to one of hundreds of participating locations and provides classes taught by certified instructors. SilverSneakers is designed specifically for older adults. The program also grants members access to exercise equipment, the pool and other amenities at their chosen location. Highmark Freedom Blue members have access to SilverSneakers and others seniors may, too, just visit www.silversneakers.com.
It's important to try a variety of physical activities and find some you enjoy. Getting friends and family involved is a good way to keep it fun. Physical activities are great for bonding while improving everyone's health. We all have different abilities, so talk to your doctor about physical activities that are right for you.
Dr. Judith Black is the medical director for Senior Markets at Highmark Inc.