Benefits of Aerobic Exercise for Seniors

by Fit After Fifty
A group of people running towards the camera

Physical activity is good for everyone, no doubt about it. As we age, being active may become more difficult, what with plantar fasciitis, a bad knee, or whatever is currently ailing us. Don’t let that stop you though; you don’t have to train for a marathon to see the benefits of physical activity. It might be hard to get started, especially if you haven’t been active for a while, but if you start slow, and keep at it, you can build your endurance up for more extended periods of time. You will feel better, enjoy more vitality, and some of your aches and pains may even go away.

The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion recommends that adults aged 18 and up engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise every week, which means around 20 minutes per day.

Strong Immune System

Researchers don’t yet know precisely how exercise boosts the immune system, but the evidence shows that it does. Some theories suggest that it is a result of an increase in antibodies, which are the mechanism for fighting off infection, and others indicate that exercise flushes the lungs of bacteria. No matter the mechanism, the result is a stronger immune system and fewer colds and infections.

Healthy Joints

Exercise increases the movement of synovial fluid, which is the cushioning fluid that surrounds the joints. Inactivity can cause stiffness and aches in underused joints, and they can become stiff. The increase in blood flow will also carry nutrients to, and waste products away from your joints, keeping them healthy and able to move freely with no pain. The muscles that surround your joints strengthen with regular exercise, which also helps to stabilize them.

Emotional Well-Being

When you engage in aerobic exercise, your body produces endorphins, which create a sense of well-being. If you’ve ever heard the term, “runner’s high,” it was referring to this feel-good chemical that reduces pain perception and is similar to morphine. You can increase the positive effects of exercise on your emotional well-being by enrolling in group aerobics classes, where you can meet other people and make some new friends, too.

Lower Blood Pressure

Regular exercise makes your heart stronger, which allows it to work less to pump. When the heart is stronger, the pressure on your blood vessels reduces as well. Exercising can lower your systolic blood pressure by an average of 4 four to nine points, which is about as well as medication can do, and without the side effects.

Better Sleep

According to the Johns Hopkins Center for Sleep, exercise helps you fall asleep faster and can improve the quality of your sleep. Like the effect that physical activity has on the immune system, researchers are not yet sure of the why behind this phenomenon. Some theories point to the endorphins that exercise produces, and some link it to the rise and fall of the core body temperature.

Get Moving to Keep Moving

There’s no denying it; exercise is good for you. It makes you feel better, look better, and get more sleep. Once you have a regular schedule of workouts, you will start to see the benefits, and you may not want to stop.

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