WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF EXERCISE?
Reduced risk of developing chronic diseases or managing the ones you may already have
Physical activity lowers the risk of many chronic conditions such as dementia, diabetes, obesity, heart disease, osteoporosis, and cancers, to name a few. As well as this, physical activity also assists in managing the symptoms of any chronic diseases you may have e.g., blood sugar control for diabetics or pain management for those with osteoarthritis.
Memory and brain function improve
Keeping a healthy body is essential to keeping a healthy mind. Regular exercise boosts oxygen to the brain and in turn can improve cognitive processing, memory recall and reaction times. These notable benefits effectively reduce the risk of dementia and cognitive decline in later life. Studies have consistently shown that exercise stimulates the human brain’s ability to maintain old and create new network connections that are vital to cognitive health. Other studies have shown that exercise increases the size of a brain structure important to memory and learning, improving spatial memory.
Reduced risk of falls
Every year, 1 in 3 people aged 65 years and over will have a fall, and falls are the most common cause of injury among older people. Physical activity improves balance and coordination and in turn can minimise the risk of falls.
Increased bone strength
As we age, the focus is addressing risk factors for frailty and falls. Bone strength effectively can be addressed through different types of exercise. Ultimately, bones become stronger when a certain amount of load is placed on them.
We improve our physical function and independence
With exercise improving muscle strength and muscle function, and reducing the risk of falls, this in turn then improves our physical function and independence as we age. Maintaining functional independence is important as we age as it provides older adults with the choice to stay at home and enjoy all aspects of their daily lives at their own pace which then has positive effects on their mental health.
We recover from illness more quickly
Just like a healthy diet, exercise can contribute to general good health and therefore to a healthy immune system. It may contribute even more directly by promoting good circulation, which allows the cells and substances of the immune system to move through the body freely and do their job efficiently.
We stay socially connected
Our ability to maintain social connections is often compromised as we age. This is mainly due to our decline in functional abilities and independence, which in turn makes it difficult to get out and maintain our social connections, often leading to feelings of loneliness and poor mental health. Group based exercise programs are a great solution to social isolation and prolonging independence, as they effectively provide a safe, supportive, and motivational environment to build self-confidence and maintain relationships with others.
Sources: ESSA Australia