Exercise. Love it or hate it, it’s been described by experts as the closest thing we have to a miracle drug — with so many health benefits confirmed by research that there’s no question that all of us should be working out in some form or another.
That includes older adults. Regular exercise is especially important as we age. It improves heart health, maintains a healthy weight, keeps joints flexible and helps improve balance to reduce the risk of falls.
But the benefits go beyond even that. One study found that adults 75 years and older who exercised lived longer than those who didn’t exercise. Another research study suggests older women who do resistance exercises designed to improve strength also improve their mental capabilities.
For general health benefits, experts recommend older adults do about 2½ hours of aerobic exercise each week, be it walking, running or anything else that gets the heart pumping faster. Throw in activities that strengthen muscles at least two days a week.
A gym membership is a great way to have access to machines, trainers, classes — and new friends. But there are other ways to get in a workout. Dance classes, a bowling league, a few laps in the pool, riding a bike or hiking in your local park are fun and easy options for exercise.
You can also combine work around the house and workouts. Make chores a little more vigorous to gain health benefits: cleaning the house, raking leaves, mowing the yard, gardening — the list goes on.
The bottom line: Keep moving to stay young. Include plans for exercise when you’re planning your week.
For more information on this topic and many others, see University Health System’s Health Library.