How Exercise Can Reduce Your Risk For 3 Senior Health Fears

Posted on: 14 February 2017

You may be starting your golden years of retirement bliss, but while your workday grind has come to a halt, the green light stays on for you to remain physically active. If you slip into a sedentary lifestyle, the rates of decrease in muscle strength and in endurance will escalate. Engaging in a physical fitness routine will empower you to stave off three health fears that worry many seniors as they age.

1. Falls

As you age, your joints, bone density and muscle mass degenerate, which can put you at greater risk for nasty falls. According to the National Council on Aging, the leading cause of injuries in America's seniors is falling, and some of these fall-related injuries are fatal. Many who sustain non-fatal injuries may not fully recover, and they can lose their independence. To reduce your risk for falls, you need to engage in a combination of exercises that will improve your balance and strengthen your muscles. The following are examples of exercises to help your balance:

  • Tai Chi
  • Yoga
  • Standing on one foot while gently holding the back of a chair
  • Heel to toe walking

The following are examples of exercises to increase your muscle strength:

  • Lifting dumbbells
  • Using weight lifting machines
  • Exercising with resistance bands
  • Bodyweight resistance exercises, such as push-ups

If you already experience pain and stiffness of arthritis, do not let that serve as an excuse to slack off and commit to a life in front of the television or computer screen. While exercise and physical activity may be uncomfortable at first, establishing a workout routine and taking a joint supplement can decrease your symptoms and slow the progression of arthritis, enabling you to enjoy a better quality of life.

Heart Attacks

Cardiovascular disease is a collective term for conditions that affect normal blood flow and heart function, including high blood pressure and atherosclerosis. Age related cardiovascular changes can put you at greater risk for a heart attack. Eating a diet that is low in saturated fats and contains the heart-healthy omega-3 fats, vegetables, lean proteins, fiber, and whole grain foods is one piece of the puzzle when it comes to preserving good cardiovascular health. The other piece is to engage in a regimen of aerobic exercise. Also known as cardio, aerobic exercises increase your heart rate and help to reduce weight and lower blood pressure. Aerobic exercise can also reduce low-density lipoprotein, or bad cholesterol, and increase high-density lipoprotein, or good cholesterol. All of these benefits will lower your risk for a heart attack.  Some examples of ideal aerobic exercises for seniors include the following:

  • Swimming
  • Brisk walking
  • Stationary bike
  • Stair stepper machines

If you have already been performing aerobic workouts and are conditioned to tolerate more vigorous activities, such as jogging, team sports, dance or exercise classes or jumping rope, continue to engage in these activities as long as you can do them. Many of these activities of vigorous intensity are high impact, so be sure that your knees, ankles and hips do not hurt as a result.


According to the Alzheimer's Association, studies have shown that aerobic exercise improves brain function, reducing the risk for dementia by approximately 30 percent and for Alzheimer's disease by 45 percent. This indicates what is known as the heart-head condition, in which cardiovascular disease contributes to the increased risk of developing Alzheimer's disease. Engaging in the aforementioned aerobic exercises to get your heart pumping increases blood flow, which means that the brain cells are receiving an increase in oxygenated blood.

Exercise Tips

How much exercise should you take on to reap the most benefits? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, someone who is 65 years of age or older and in good health should be able to engage in two and a half hours a week of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise in addition to two to three days a week of strengthening exercises. If you have limitations that prevent you from performing that much exercise, such as being out of shape or having a health condition that reduces your physical abilities, any amount of daily physical activity is better than none. You should also keep these tips in mind when it comes to exercising:

  • If you have not been exercising, consult with your physician before you begin a fitness program to confirm that you can tolerate exercise.
  • If you have not been exercising, begin at a pace and duration that you are comfortable with. Pick up the pace and lengthen the duration of your workout gradually as the exercises become easier.
  • Consider hiring a personal trainer who is certified to work with seniors. He or she will be able to ensure that you are performing the exercises safely. A trainer can also motivate you to stay in the routine while adjusting the level of difficulty as your stamina and strength improve.
  • Joining a senior exercise class at your local fitness center will provide guidance as well as moral support and social interaction from your classmates.

In addition to working out, be sure to seize opportunities to take on other physical activities, such as taking your dog for a walk around the block, gardening or joining the kids or grandkids for a simple hike. Staying active will go a long way toward maintaining your independence, preserving your confidence, improving your overall sense of well-being and reducing your risk for detrimental health conditions. For more information, talk to a professional like Paramount Parks At Eagle.