Geriatrics at the Gym: Why Older People Need Regular Exercise Too

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Giving health and exercise recommendations to older people can be a tricky task because, unlike other age groups, they tend to have massive differences in general health levels and physical ability. Some older people can run marathons, whilst others struggle to get out of bed in the morning.

Yet no matter your level of health or mobility, adding a little extra exercise to your weekly routine (even for the elderly) is almost always a good idea for your health. Here are just some of the reasons why, especially if you are an older person, you should be exercising regularly.

Something is better than nothing

It is a simple phrase, but “something is better than nothing” pretty much encompasses all you need to know about exercise for older people. Many older people avoid exercise altogether because they cannot run on treadmills or do an aerobics class, but that does not mean that they cannot do any form of exercise. The US government recommendations for exercise for older people recommend that they perform 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise a week or else they should be as physically active as their abilities and conditions allow. You don’t need to be running like Usain Bolt on a treadmill: for example, a little moderate speed-walking (enough to get your heart-rate up) and perhaps playing with some light free weights while watching the TV can make all the difference. You may actually be surprised at what you can achieve. While you can start out gentle, you might find that soon you could work up to running, cycling, or even playing a sport.

You have the time (and the discounts)

If you are retired, then you may no longer have the age-old excuse of “I don’t have time to exercise.” There is no reason why you should not be using your newly acquired free time to stay fit and ensure you can get the most out of your old age. Much like being a student, perhaps the best part about being an older person is the discounts. Gyms are often sponsored by local governments to encourage older people to join their gyms, and therefore memberships for older people tend to be a lot cheaper than for younger adults. If you are not incredibly mobile, then you also have the option of buying some home fitness equipment like gentle free weights or exercises bikes to enable yourself to stay fit even if you can’t easily get outdoors.

Exercise is the best way to combat diseases of old age

Several conditions and diseases, from Type 2 Diabetes to hip problems, occur more in the older generation than they do in the younger generation. However, exercise (combined with a healthy diet) is actually one of the primary ways to fight these conditions and remain healthy. Active elders generally outlive their inactive counterparts, and a little activity everyday is essential to combating illness as well as generic losses of balance, strength, muscle tone, bone density and reflexes that occur naturally as you age.

Just because you are old does not mean you need to feel old

There is a large difference between being old and feeling old: the former you cannot fight but the latter is easily defeated. It can be easy especially for retirees to view your twilight years as a time for rest and relaxation, and it is a rest that many retirees deserve. But too much inactivity can leave you unable to actually enjoy all the things you told yourself you would enjoy in your retirement, whether that be a round of golf or playing with your grandchildren. Even if exercise itself is boring to you, the way to makes you feel simply put is younger.

Maintain your independence

As you become older, things generally become more difficult. Everything from climbing the stairs to carrying your groceries can become an insurmountable task. But it does not have to be this way: if you maintain your strength via exercise, then there is no reason why you should not maintain your independence and remain a functioning and contributing member of society. An incredibly amount of old people fear becoming useless or becoming a burden to their families, and exercise is just one way in which you can ensure you stay independent for as long as possible.

All in all, exercise has an exponential amount of benefits for people of all ages but it is especially great for older people as it really can make a huge difference to their health and their ability to maintain free and independent lives. Always consult a medical professional before undertaking any great change in your exercise routine, but otherwise, get out there and get fit!