Why Is It Important For Seniors To Exercise?

Senior male swimming

My Mother was never an exercise advocate or devotee. However, she was an explorer; a lover of the great outdoors, and in the last chapters of her life moved to the remote but beautiful Margaree Valley in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, Canada. There her exercise consisted of gardening during the summer months and snow shovelling in the winter where record snowfall would make finding her car the ultimate challenge.

One of the most disconcerting things about her living in this beautiful wilderness was her tendency to explore the landscape during the summer months and head off into the woods with her dog to pick wild blueberries. Sometimes these were long hikes resulting in her lying down under a tree and napping. “Mom!” I warned her: “Bears like blueberries too!” But into her 80s and fearless, she was undeterred and continued her berrypicking adventures always making her way home safely through this remote land, exercised, refreshed and laden with blueberries.

Why is it important for seniors to exercise? Let’s do our own exploring right here.

Exercise should be something you enjoy

Exercise is fundamentally important for good health. But let’s be sensible about it; weekend warriors are not encouraged, especially when you’re a senior or  when our “reach” exceeds our true level of fitness. Things don’t have to get extreme in order for us to reap the benefits. Movement should be consistent and non-injurious because who needs tendonitis or a fractured hip? And mobility is something we all value – until we lose it. It’s also something we need to work at because we have to keep moving in order to keep moving. And one other thing, lifelong exercisers have to work less hard in order to get or remain fit than lifelong couch potatoes.

The benefits of exercise are numerous with walking and swimming being two of the most recommended exercises for seniors. Let’s assess both.

The 7 Benefits of Walking

  •  Easing and addressing back pain
  •  Lowering Blood Pressure
  •   Reducing blood cholesterol
  •   The weight-bearing exercise of walking contributing to the health of our bones, preventing osteoporosis
  •   Reducing estrogen levels in older women which may help prevent breast cancer
  •   Reducing the risk of coronary issues such as stroke
  •   Improving balance and coordination                                                                                     Sr man and woman walking with smiling face

Then there’s the added plus of being outdoors, breathing fresh air, smelling the roses, and noticing all the things one misses behind the wheel. All we need to enjoy a brisk walk or any walk at all is a good pair of comfortable walking shoes and appropriate clothing.

On the topic of shoes, the recommendation is to buy shoes most suited to walking – or cross-trainers. Shoes designed for runners are not the best idea because of a forward balance design which is fine for running but not for walking; that design stresses your legs and lower spine.

Also important when choosing a walking shoe is arch support because plantar fasciitis can be painful and can sideline your walking regime.

Once equipped with proper footwear, just 30 minutes of daily walking reduces excess body fat and boosts endurance. Walking briskly can burn between 100-300 calories in a half-hour or 200 to 600 calories in an hour’s walk. Your body will burn sugar stored as fuel in the first 30 minutes. So the benefits are multiple and compound if you make walking a regular routine.

Belly fat, also known as visceral fat, the kind that destroys your waistline and raises your risk of diabetes and heart disease, will be burned in the first 45 minutes of a brisk walk.

So what’s not to like about simply walking?

For Seniors, swimming offers many of the same benefits as does walking:

  •  Improvement in heart health; resulting in a stronger, larger heart and greater endurance
  •  Swimming is gentle on the joints due to the buoyancy of the water
  •  Reduces risk of osteoporosis
  •  Increases flexibility
  •  Improves muscle strength and tone
  •  Is a mood enhancer
  •  Swimming strengthens your core muscles which will support and stabilize the body for better balance — better balance means fewer falls, the bane of many seniors.

Once again you don’t need to invest a lot of money in order to swim year-round: a membership at the Y, swimsuit, goggles and a bathing cap should get you going. In the summer if you’re fortunate enough to be close to a body of water, then visit a lake or the ocean.

Then there’s this encouraging information on the benefits of swimming from Zoomer Magazine:

Swimming May Slow Down Aging By Decades – Everything …                                              Sr women swimming

www.everythingzoomer.com › 2019/08/19 › swimming-exercise-aging

The bottom line folks: just get moving!

Don those runners or slip into your swimsuit and reap the many benefits of exercise. It’s fun. It can be social and you will look and feel so much better for it.


Disclaimer: You must not rely on the information on our website as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or other professional healthcare provider

2 thoughts on “Why Is It Important For Seniors To Exercise?”

  1. Hey, this is such a great topic- I think that whatever age you are, there is also a type of exercise out there that you will be suited to. I particularly like your suggestion of swimming. As a dancer I am a massive advocate of this sport as it doesn’t put strain on any one particular part of the body, it’s great for injuries and with swimming you will become strong without building muscle as bulk. It’s also something you can take at your own pace.

    I think you’re so right that exercise should be something we enjoy- it’s a lifestyle choice so if we don’t enjoy it, we won’t stay with it!

    I love your story about your mum falling asleep under a tree, no fear of bears at all. She sounds like she was a brave, adventurous and remarkable lady.

  2. Thank you for your comment. My Mother was unique and I will probably use her life frequently in my posts. Fearless is the word that comes to mind when I remember her. Never one to procrastinate, if she had an idea she would dive head first into the pool before checking to see if it contained any water. However that seemed to work for her most of the time. By contrast, I have to turn things over 32 different ways and analyze them to death before I make a move. And I agree with your comments about swimming, something I want to initiate soon. I didn’t realize it might enable you to live longer, a definite perk!

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