Benefits of exercise for aging populations

As we age, it becomes increasingly important to maintain a well-rounded diet and exercise program. Though a wellness-focused lifestyle has always been important, recent studies have shown the growing correlation between exercise and lower blood pressure, improved cholesterol, the reduction of symptoms of diabetes, Parkinson’s, the risk of heart attacks and heart disease and many other ailments. Take a look at these 4 invaluable benefits of exercise for aging populations – and especially integrating and maintaining a regular exercise routine in your life regardless of your age!

Improved Balance

According to a study conducted by the CDC, falls by seniors are responsible for 800,000 hospital visits a year, costing Americans over $32 billion – an average of $30,000 per hospital visit! There are hundreds of research articles showing a reduction in injury-causing falls when people participate in well-conceived strength and balance training programs.

A good balance training program should consist of a few traditional balance exercises, core and trunk intensive training and very importantly strength training. A strong lower body will have an easier time recovering from a loss of balance and generating a stronger walking pattern compared to a weaker body, no matter how much balancing practice they do. And don’t just focus on lower body. A good training program will work the whole body so that it can function as one piece.

Related: click here to register for a FREE 1-hour personal training session at FFC!

Better Quality of Life

A good trainer can tailor exercises to fit your daily life and keep you able to do things you love, or even improve them. A study from the Journal of Applied Physiology shows that as we age, we lose muscle mass, have reduced muscle quality, and develop wear and tear on the joints that can make everyday activities difficult or painful.

But by developing lower body strength, activities such standing up from a chair or traveling up and down stairs can become easier. A more innovative trainer can also help develop a program for more exciting activities, such as golf, tennis, swimming or playing with the grandchildren!

Related: do you have chronic pain? It might be a muscular imbalance. Here’s how Pilates can help.

Less Pain

Smart trainers can easily identify dysfunction in movement and muscles (check out this recent post to see how!) and develop programs to correct those issues. For example, people may experience pain in reaching overhead due to poor control of the shoulder blade (scapula). By improving the muscles that guide the scapula along its path and allowing each muscle to function as it is intended, studies show that pain can be reduced over time.

Even just the way you stand can have an effect on pain. Studies have shown that many issues in an aging population can be traced back to poor posture. Sticking with the shoulder as an example, slouching can cause improper stresses on the body leading to neck pain, shoulder pain, back pain and more. A forward head posture can increase stress on the neck muscles from 10-12 lbs of force to 60 lbs! By improving spine movement through the upper back and training the surrounding muscles, shoulder slouching can be reduced and in turn reduce some pain symptoms.

Stronger Heart

Age is only a number! Studies show that as long as the participant is healthy, anyone can work at a high intensity that is proper for their age, goals and ability. It has been shown that high intensity circuit training can have all of the benefits of more traditional balance and strength training, as well as have a greater impact on blood pressure reduction and fat loss.

The Heart and Stroke Foundation recommends that participants are able to work at 85% of their heart rate for 20 minutes before participating in a high intensity interval program, but did not place an age restriction. Studies have shown that even high risk patients participating in cardiac rehab have participated in some form of high intensity training with success.

Conclusion

Remember- don’t let perceived limitations prevent you from enjoying all the benefits of exercise. There are many seniors active in triathlons, marathons and recreation or even competitive sports. Everyone starts somewhere and the sooner you do, the sooner you can see and feel the results from working out!

Post written by FFC Gold Coast Personal Trainer Allan Poremskis.

About Allan

Allan Poremskis is a NASM-certified elite personal trainer at FFC Gold Coast. He specializes in core and functional training, powerlifting, stability and balance, as well as post-rehabilitation work. Have questions or want to set up a complimentary consultation with Allan? Email him at aporemskis@ffc.com!

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