The research is clear: Physical activity in aging adults is linked to positive health outcomes, increased quality of life, and improved mental health.

“May 25 is National Senior Health and Fitness Day,” said Anand Balasubramanian, Program Director of Housing and Wellness Services at Charles E. Smith Life Communities. “It’s the perfect time to highlight the way we encourage residents to take part in our exercise classes and utilize our fitness centers all year. We recognize how important regular exercise can be to residents’ health and do all we can to promote regular physical activity.”

Senior living communities offer residents the opportunity to conveniently take advantage of wellness programming and improve their health. Keep reading to discover the ways you could enhance your physical and mental wellness through exercise.

How Can Regular Physical Activity Improve Senior Health?

With the amenities offered at senior living communities like Charles E. Smith Life Communities, residents have everything needed to maintain or begin a fitness program. Here are a few significant health benefits of regular exercise:

1. Supports Independence: According to the CDC, exercise in aging adults improves their ability to complete activities of daily living. Regular exercise can keep senior’s bodies strong, flexible, and better able to perform the activities necessary to maintain independence.

2. Reduces the Risk of Falling: Especially when older adults incorporate exercises designed to improve balance and lower-body strength, a fitness routine can prevent falls. The CDC reports that in 2019, there were 3 million emergency room visits due to falls in older adults. For residents of Charles E. Smith Life

Communities, attending our Balance Class at Ring House and Revitz House can minimize the risk of falls.

3. Promotes Social Wellness: Many senior living communities fill their calendar of activities with options for exercise classes. When residents participate, they benefit from both physical activity and a shared experience with peers. This sort of social interaction is essential to emotional and mental wellness.

4. Strengthens Bones, Muscles and Joints: Exercise can prevent falls, and it can also help build bone density. This can reduce the chance of serious injury if a fall does occur. Low-impact exercises can also alleviate joint pain associated with arthritis and build muscle mass to prevent injuries.

5. Increases Energy and Cognitive Health: Exercise can boost energy and help you stay focused. How? Endorphins released after a workout stimulate the mind, improve mood, and can help people sleep – provided exercise doesn’t occur too close to bedtime. There are even studies that show physical activity is the best thing seniors can do to prevent dementia.

6. Reduces Risk for Disease and Illness: Overall, experts say that exercise keeps you healthier. It boosts the immune and digestive systems, protecting against both common and serious It also reduces the risk of chronic diseases like high blood pressure, colon cancer and diabetes.

7. Manages Body Weight: As we age, our metabolism slows, so it’s more difficult to maintain a healthy weight. It’s no secret that an exercise program can help stave off those extra pounds.

How Long and How Often Should I Exercise?

The CDC recommends older adults adopt one of two strategies:

  • Exercise for 150 minutes per week with moderate
  • Exercise for 75 minutes per week with vigorous

The CDC also recommends older people engage in a variety of physical activities in shorter intervals. These should include aerobic exercise for cardiovascular health, strength training for muscular and bone health, and balance training for increased stability.

Here are some examples of each:

Aerobic exercise:

  • Zumba
  • Walking
  • Dancing

Strength Training:

  • Resistance band exercises
  • Bodyweight workouts
  • Dumbbell strength training

Balance training:

What Exercises Should Older People Avoid?

Always consult with your physician before starting any exercise regimen. Each individual has different strengths, weaknesses and obstacles to consider when they increase their physical activity. Most older adults, in particular, should avoid certain fitness activities.

Some cardio exercises to avoid:

  • High-intensity interval training
  • Long-distance running

Some weight training exercises to avoid:

  • Deadlifts
  • Crunches
  • Upright rows
  • Squats with weights
  • Leg press

A personal trainer, doctor or physical therapist can help you identify other physical limitations you might want to keep in mind when planning an exercise program.

Charles E. Smith Life Communities Is Here for You

Charles E. Smith Life Communities offers residents an array of opportunities to improve fitness and health. Our network of residences has been caring for older adults since 1910. We offer experience-rich independent living and a full suite of care services

including assisted living, memory care, post-acute care and long-term care. We invite you to schedule a tour and meet our award-winning team.