New Study Shows Exercise Improves Brain Function

How Seniors Can Improve Health With Exercise

Exercise Offers Physical and Mental Benefits

We all know exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle, but as people age, exercise may seem more difficult or risky. Seniors may hesitate to incorporate a regular exercise routine based on fear of falling or increased pain associated with other health conditions. Research shows, however, that not only does exercise offer physical benefits like increased mobility and stamina, but it can also improve brain function and long-term memory, reduce stress, prevent certain diseases, and reduce negative feelings associated with depression.

Staying Active Builds Strong Bones

Older people who exercise experience reduced risk of bone fractures if they fall. In one study, older women who remained very active were 36% less likely to experience hip fractures as compared with sedentary women of the same age. This reduced risk can be attributed to greater bone density and higher bone mass in elderly people who exercise regularly. Weight-bearing exercises like walking, climbing stairs, and dancing build up strength and density in the bones. These exercises, along with strength training and flexibility training, can help prevent osteoporosis. Even people who already have osteoporosis can maintain their current bone mass by exercising regularly.

Exercise is Good For Your Brain, Too

Recent studies demonstrate that exercise helps elderly people improve brain function and long-term memory. During one study, elderly people who exercised regularly performed better than their non-active peers on tasks like face-name associations, problem-solving, planning, and long-term memory tests. The study indicates that exercise can significantly affect the rate of cognitive decline associated with aging. Staying active doesn’t necessarily mean you have to go out jogging every day. Simple tasks like working in the garden, going for a walk, or doing housework can improve quality of life by delivering physical and mental benefits that prevent health problems associated with aging.

How Can Seniors Gain the Benefits of Exercise?

Simple exercise is an easy, inexpensive way to prevent mental decline and increase mobility among seniors. Structured exercise programs like yoga, a walking club, and strength training can deliver even greater benefits by building bone mass and muscle. Before beginning a regular exercise routine, seniors should see a doctor to determine if there are any restrictions on the kinds of activities they should participate in, particularly if they have health conditions that might be affected. Doctors recommend exercising 3-5 days each week; however, physical activity can be incorporated throughout the day and doesn’t have to occur in thirty minute structured sessions. An in-home caregiver can be a valuable asset for families who want to help elderly loved ones become more active. Caregivers can offer support and encouragement to their clients by helping them incorporate regular walking and other activity into the daily routine.


Photo by garryknight

Originally posted 2014-12-23 10:30:13.

Joyce Apperson
Joyce Apperson

Joyce Apperson is a Registered Nurse and Geriatric Care Manager with 15 plus years of experience working with advocating for seniors. She is the founder and President of Caring Connection, Inc., which provides in-home care and geriatric care management in Harford County, Baltimore County and Cecil County in Maryland. Joyce currently serves on the Harford County Advisory Board on Aging. In addition to writing articles here for the Caring Connection's blog, Joyce has been a regular contributor on senior care topics to the County Gazette.

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