When most people think of hitting the gym they don’t think of it being filled top to bottom with senior citizens throwing around weight plates, pounding miles into treadmills, or sweating like crazy all over machines.
Instead we think of young people looking to get ready for beach season, athletes building their bodies, and people just looking to pack on pounds and pounds of lean muscle mass – usually in the younger years of their lives.
That’s a mistake, though.
Science shows pretty conclusively that there are a whole host of health benefits to be had by folks that not only workout when they are younger but continue to work out as they age, too.
It turns out that living a healthy lifestyle for your entire life pays off some pretty big dividends.
Below we breakdown some of the biggest benefits that older people get to enjoy when they spend a lifetime working out and staying serious about their physical health and fitness.
Researchers working with Oxford show pretty conclusively that muscle and strength building exercises – basically lifting heavy weights to train your muscles – also has a sidelong benefit that builds stronger bones, too.
As we get older our bone density starts to dissipate and our skeleton (quite literally) begins to weaken from the inside out.
By stressing out our central nervous system, our muscles and tendons, and (yes) even our skeletal structure when we are younger by lifting heavier weights more often we are able to delay that degradation considerably.
Stronger bones pushback against all kinds of health issues later on in life, not the least of which is osteoporosis or osteopenia. Stronger bones are a lot less likely to break, too, one of the leading issues leading to compromised mobility in the elderly.
Exercising when you’re older also has the benefit of improving your overall cardiovascular health and wellness.
Regular aerobic exercise (combined with regular strength training, of course) is going to help improve the strength of your heart. That’s going to keep your blood pumping more consistently, it’s going to keep your circulation moving, and it’s going to help oxygenate the rest of your body, too.
You’ll see improvements to your blood pressure, you’ll see your energy levels increase, and you’ll generally have a lot more stamina, a lot more energy, and a lot more endurance as you get older as well.
All exercise (all of it) dramatically increases the amount of blood flow throughout your body.
The second that your heart starts to pump faster and faster you’re going to be sending more blood to every corner of your body – including your brain – and a lot more oxygen is going to go along for the ride as well.
A better oxygenated brain helps your body “flush” toxins and other unwanted chemicals in the brain that have been linked to dementia and Alzheimer’s. This may not be able to “cure” these problems completely, but it definitely helps to armor your body and your mind from these serious health debilitations in a big way.
Regular exercise when you are older is going to improve your musculature, it’s going to improve your posture, and it’s also going to improve your balance as well.
You’ll be able to maintain a higher level of athleticism well into your twilight years, and that extra level of athleticism is going to keep you light and nimble on your feet.
Your sense of balance will be more finely tuned because of this athleticism, and that’s going to help prevent falls – falls that usually lead to broken bones, which inevitably lead to lower mobility, obesity, and a raft of other problems that can really compromise the quality of life for seniors.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that seniors have to do a lot of yoga to improve their mobility in their later life. Regular exercise (including just getting in some vigorous walks throughout the week) can help to improve your balance significantly.
Researchers have also shown how exercise (regular exercise) improves your flexibility as well as the natural range of motion that you have for each of your joints.
As we age and our body deals with natural atrophy and gets tighter we start to see our mobility and our range of motion shrink, sometimes dramatically.
When our joints aren’t working the way they are supposed to we usually find it hard to get around, hard to lift things, and just hard to live life on our own terms. Whereas we may have felt a little twinge when we were lifting something heavy in the past it can ruin our whole day when our mobility is compromised just for making the extra effort!
By working out in our older years, though, we improve our range of motion, improve our tendon and joint health, and enjoy better flexibility, too.
A regular and consistent exercise schedule almost always leads to regular and consistent sleep schedules, and there’s nothing more important for maintaining our health, our wellness, and our youthful vitality well into our later years then getting quality sleep.
Not only will you wake up feeling more rested and with more energy thanks to a good night worth of sleep, but you’ll also see improvements to your cognitive function (your ability to concentrate and recall things), improvements to your overall endurance levels, and significantly reduced risk of injury stemming from fatigue or mental “fogginess”.
It’s no secret that exercise releases endorphins, biochemicals produced by our body that help us (quite literally) feel happy.
By triggering these endorphins you’re going to enjoy a sunnier disposition, better positivity throughout your day, and a generally more optimistic outlook.
It’s also not unusual to have these endorphins boost your energy levels naturally, too.
You’ll feel more resilient, you’ll feel more confident, and you’ll feel like you can take on the world when you are exercising regularly later on in life!
You don’t need to read a peer-reviewed research paper to know that people that exercise throughout their lives look (and feel) years younger – sometimes decades younger – than people that lead more sedentary lives.
All you really have to do is pop on down to your local park or Walmart, or even just look around a restaurant the next time you go out to eat, to see evidence of this reality with your own two eyes.
Lifting weights, walking, exercising, and eating right when you are younger on through your later years will help you find your own version of the Fountain of Youth for sure!
The World Health Organization (WHO) has said for a number of years that a lack of overall physical activity is one of the most common causes of death in the world – and that our sedentary lifestyles are (quite literally) killing of sooner than they should.
Regular exercise (lifting, swimming, walking, biking, etc.) has a significant impact on your overall health and wellness, particularly as you age. We know that sedentary lifestyles lead to obesity, diabetes, and all different kinds of cancers – not to mention heart problems galore.
Active lifestyles push back against those problems in a big way.
Finally, it’s always a good idea to work out when you are older to maintain your mental health right alongside your physical health and wellness.
Regular exercise helps to combat stress and pressure, helps to alleviate feelings of anxiety and nervousness, and can even push back against feelings of depression and loneliness.
We know that regular exercise (for younger and older adults) improves brain function, helps the brain to connect with new neurons, and releases endorphins as mentioned above to literally help you lead a happier and healthier lifestyle.
The advantages of being active in the twilight years of our lives are well worth the bit of extra sweat equity we have to put in to enjoy them!