The Importance Of Staying Active With Age

As we get older, our bodies and minds undergo changes that can make it challenging to maintain our health and wellbeing. While regular physical activity is crucial at any age, it becomes even more important as we age, particularly for seniors. Exercise not only helps keep bones, joints, and muscles strong, but it also provides numerous mental health benefits that seniors may miss out on if they lead a sedentary lifestyle. In this article, we’ll explore how not exercising can impact mental health in seniors and discuss strategies to combat these effects.

A Greater Risk Of Memory Problems

Research indicates that cognitive decline related to memory in seniors is linked to physical inactivity. However, a recent study conducted at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, shows that seniors who have been leading a sedentary lifestyle can improve their memory performance through regular exercise. The three-month study involved over 50 adults aged 60 to 88, and various forms of exercise were found to boost memory skills in seniors. The best forms of exercise for seniors to enhance their memory include: 

  • Walking, 
  • Cycling, 
  • Running, 
  • Cardiovascular and aerobic activities, and 
  • Short-duration, high-intensity workouts.

A Greater Chance Of Depression

Depression and anxiety are often associated with physical inactivity and a sedentary lifestyle. Encouraging seniors to engage in regular exercise can help reduce their risk of depression. The Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology recommends that adults 65 and older aim for about 2 1/2 hours of moderate to vigorous activity per week in sessions of 10 to 15 minutes at a time. If you’re concerned about your loved one’s ability to exercise safely, consider hiring a trained at-home caregiver to provide assistance. Caregivers can provide seniors with the support and encouragement they need to engage in regular physical activity, enhancing their quality of life.

Increased Risk Of Developing Dementia

The Alzheimer’s Association website reports that over 747,000 Canadians have dementia. Even if your loved one is not currently showing any signs of dementia, leading a sedentary lifestyle can increase their risk of developing dementia-related conditions. According to the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, this risk may be equivalent to the dementia risks associated with specific genetic factors. If you typically assist your loved one with exercise but require a break now and then, a professional caregiver can take over for you. Respite care services can assist seniors with various daily tasks, providing family caregivers the opportunity to concentrate on other personal responsibilities or take a break to prevent burnout.

Difficulty With ADHD

While ADHD is often associated with younger people, it can become a problem later in life, particularly when seniors retire and have less structure in their lives. If seniors with ADHD don’t exercise, their symptoms could become more challenging to manage. Exercise boosts levels of beneficial brain chemicals such as dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin, which play a role in increasing focus and attention. Encouraging seniors with ADHD to engage in regular physical activity can help them maintain their focus and attention levels and improve their overall wellbeing.

An Inefficient Nervous System

As we grow older, our nervous system can affect various mental health conditions such as PTSD, anxiety, and depression. However, regular exercise can help to enhance the functions of the nervous system in the brain and promote the release of  hormones called endorphins, which can improve mood. Fortunately, there are many ways for seniors with a sedentary lifestyle to become more active, such as:

  • Daily walks at a comfortable pace, 
  • Yoga or Pilates classes tailored for seniors, or 
  • Low-impact water-based exercises for those who find land-based exercises too demanding.

If your loved one needs assistance creating and following effective exercise plans, professional home caregivers can be a great help. They can provide high-quality care to seniors on an as-needed basis, from assistance with mobility and exercise to providing transportation to the doctor’s office and social events. Contact one of our experienced care managers at Saige Homecare to learn more about our reliable home care services.