Benefits of physical activity for the elderly

physical activity in the elderly

We know that staying active at any stage of a person’s life is beneficial because it allows you to maintain better physical and mental health, even if you have an illness or condition. The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), in conjunction with the World Health Organization (WHO), recommends that older people regularly engage in some form of physical activity.

In this scenario, Sportlife Gyms conducted a survey among their male and female over 60s subscribers which produced interesting numbers: 32% believe that exercise makes them feel active every day, 27% that it affects their mental health. 20% find it improves their mood, and 21% find it helps them with daily activities such as climbing stairs, lifting weights, and moving daily.

“People over 60 years of age are expected to perform 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity or 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous physical activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate- to vigorous-intensity exercise, on a weekly basis with a goal in order to obtain measurable health benefits,” says Victor Munoz, fitness leader at Sportlife.

The main scientifically proven benefits of regular exercise in older people are:

  • Reduces the incidence of cardiovascular disease.
  • Reduces the risk of metabolic syndrome.
  • Reduces the incidence of obesity and type II diabetes.
  • Reduces the loss of minerals from bone tissue.
  • Prevents the risk of fractures.
  • Helps strengthen muscles, improve physical performance and reduce the risk of falls.
  • Strengthens the immune system.
  • Reduces the incidence of certain types of cancer (especially breast, colon and pancreatic cancer), and improves physical and emotional recovery after overcoming it.
  • Reduces musculoskeletal pain associated with aging.
  • Protects against osteoarthritis.
  • Preserves and increases cognitive functions.
  • Protects against the risk of developing dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Increases physical functionality, promoting increased self-efficacy and self-esteem.
  • Reduces the prevalence of depression, anxiety and other mental illnesses.
  • Promotes cohesion and social inclusion.

“Older adults should prioritize strength training and stability, coordination and balance exercises; this stimulates a sense of orientation and control over the body, which reduces the risk of injury when performing everyday tasks such as walking,” explains Muñoz.

It is also important to encourage flexibility and stretching exercises to improve range and range of motion. “Another option is to practice so-called mind-body exercises, such as meditation or yoga, which combine physical postures with breathing, relaxation, and movement exercises. The main thing is that these were activities that they liked and they did not feel obliged to do them, ”he concludes.

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