How does exercise really benefit you as you age?

January 8th, 2020

Aging affects your life in every way. Perhaps it comes as no surprise that onee of the most affected things is your body. Getting older can lead to loss of muscle mass, bone density, strength, agility, and balance. The heart rate slows. Arteries harden slightly, meaning your heart has to work harder to pump blood. In the long term, this can lead to high blood pressure and other heart problems. 

Keep Your Heart Healthy

One of the most common ways to keep your heart healthy is to have an active lifestyle. Studies have also shown some surprising benefits of long-term exercise. Scientists say there might be long-term benefits to exercising. In 2014, scientists studied a group of cyclists in the 55-79 age range. They measured cyclists’ physical and mental abilities against a group that didn’t exercise in the same age range. 

How Exercise Benefits You

Even though all the people studied were close in age, the cyclists had the reflexes, memories, and balance, similar to 30 year olds. Muscle health and immune response usually get worse after middle age. However, consistent exercise helped cyclists keep their muscle size and composition. Another marker of good health scientists found was a high T cell count. T cells are important to the body’s immune response. People who are less active usually have fewer T cells as they get older.

Other Benefits

The study didn’t include people in the 55-79 age range who just started exercising. However, exercise is a good thing at any age. Results won’t be the same for everyone, but are generally positive as long as you aren’t straining yourself. Many people experience a lower risk of developing an injury or disability. They also have better balance, mobility, and flexibility thanks healthy muscles. 

Not everyone can cycle a few hundred miles a month. Every body will respond differently to exercise, so it’s important to find the right exercise for you. There are plenty of exercises that get your blood pumping without putting strain on your joints. Low impact workouts include swimming, aerobics, indoor cycling, yoga, and pilates. You should always consult your doctor before starting a new exercise routine. 

Even simple physical activity can positively contribute to overall fitness. Taking a walk, doing household chores (especially vacuuming), or gardening are all small ways to increase your activity level and improve your health. 

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