New studies reveal hidden benefits of exercise for seniorsAs the weather turns and leaves begin to fall this year, new research shows that local aging seniors are well served to get up and grab a rake themselves – for more reasons than one.
By: Staff Report, Alexandria Echo Press
As the weather turns and leaves begin to fall this year, new research shows that local aging seniors are well served to get up and grab a rake themselves – for more reasons than one.
A group of four recent studies published in 2010 Harvard University health and medicine journals shows a surprising and strong connection between seniors, exercise, and mental and physical health, especially among aging women.
“We’ve known that regular exercise translates to serious health benefits for seniors for years, but connections of this magnitude are incredible,” said Peter Ross, senior care expert and CEO of Senior Helpers, an in-home care company. “It’s vital to keep mom and dad up and moving as they age, and this is further evidence that proves just how important even the most moderate of exercise efforts can really be.”
The four new studies found the following related to seniors, mental health and physical activity:
--Women who exercise regularly (categorized as walking briskly five to six hours per week) at age 60 were almost twice as likely to live beyond 70 with no cognitive, physical, or mental health limitations.
--Women age 65-75 who participated in low-level strength training exercises showed significantly improved executive function (high-order thought processes involved in decision making) and also improved physical walking speed (a leading predictor of fall and fracture risk) compared to a control group.
--Men and women over 55 who exercise at a moderate level or higher (about three times per week) were half as likely to develop dementia later in life compared to those who did not exercise regularly.
--Women, age 70 and up, with mild cognitive impairments (MCI, a common precursor to dementia) who engaged in aerobic exercise four times per week showed significant improvements over a control group in all administered cognitive and physiological tests over a six-month trial.
“The successes found by these researchers in improving mental function and physical health can be duplicated in reality and locally,” Ross said.
Autumn exercise ideas for seniors:
--Sweeping/raking leaves – even a quick weekly sweep of the front porch or the stoop offers cardio and strength-building exercise for core muscle groups.
--Gardening – tending to a small garden or flower box works the hands, forearms, and extremities and is good for the mind.
--Light housework – doing the dishes, laundry, dusting, and cleaning offer a great opportunity for an easy everyday exercise routine.
--Walking – the weeks after the summer heat and before winter chill provide a perfect window for outdoor excursions at any point during the day.
--Seasonal activities – pumpkin carving and corn mazes offer physical activity and a chance to interact with family and friends.
“The physical and mental benefits of exercise among seniors are almost endless,” Ross said. “Even the simplest of activities can go a long, long way to promoting a healthy, independent lifestyle among aging loved one - and this new research is the proof.”