You know that exercise and physical activity are good for your health, but there are so many other health benefits that make working out so important.
If you need a reason to get started on your new fitness plan, here’s the extra motivation you need.
“Exercise starts a positive cycle,” says Dr. Sophia Chang, Chief Clinical Informatics Officer at Clover Health. “It helps you sleep better, feel stronger for all your daily activities, improves circulation, lowers blood pressure, improves glucose control, and helps stave away dementia. Plus, it makes you feel better!”
Staying active is one of the most important things you can do for your health. Here’s why.
Physical Benefits of Exercise
When you take the time to exercise several times every week, you’ll be amazed at how healthy you feel. Here are some of the physical benefits of being active.
1. Weight Control
Regular exercise will help you maintain a healthy weight. The CDC recommends exercising at least 150 minutes per week, if your body allows, to maintain your weight and lower your risk of heart disease. Staying active powers up your metabolism and helps you burn calories and build muscle mass.
2. Disease Prevention
Seniors have a higher risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes. Staying active can improve your immune system and can help prevent common diseases. The American Heart Association recommends exercising at least 3 times a week to improve circulation and help prevent heart disease.
3. Increased Bone Density
Bones lose density over time, which can increase your risk of falling or breaking a bone. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommends daily exercise to strengthen your bones and increase bone density. Staying active can reduce your risk of osteoporosis and even help prevent fractures or injuries.
4. Improved Balance
Seniors have a higher risk of falling than younger adults, and one accident can rob you of your independence. Getting regular exercise strengthens your muscles and improves your posture and coordination. Research shows that exercise can reduce the risk of falling by 23% for adults over age 60. For adults that do multiple types of exercise (walking some days and doing light weight or resistance training other days, for example), the risk of falling is 34% less than those who don’t exercise at all.
5. Increased Independence
Seniors who exercise several times a week are more independent. According to Harvard Medical School, regular exercise helps seniors stay mobile and active as they age. In one study, seniors who walked every day were 28% less likely to lose their independence.
6. Better Sleep
Another great benefit of exercising is better sleep. Staff at the Johns Hopkins Center for Sleep say that exercising 30 minutes a day will improve sleep. Exercising raises your body temperature, makes you feel more tired at night, lets you fall asleep easily, and helps you sleep deeply.
Mental Benefits of Exercise
Staying active is good for your physical health. It also boosts your mood, your energy levels, and even your brain health. Here are just some of the mental benefits of exercise.
7. Improved Brain Health
Physical activity keeps your brain healthy too. The Alzheimer’s Society reports that regular exercise will reduce the risk of developing dementia or Alzheimer’s disease by up to 45%. Being physically active can help prevent cognitive decline and improve your concentration and your memory.
8. Improved Mood
Exercise can also boost your mood. Don’t you feel good after swimming a few laps at the pool or taking your dog out for a walk? Researchers at Harvard Medical School found that going for a walk or a run every day decreases your risk of depression by 26%. Exercising releases endorphins, and these “feel good” hormones will reduce feelings of anxiety, stress, or sadness. That's why physical activity makes you feel happier and more confident.
9. Feeling of Community
Joining a senior fitness group can be a great way to make new friends, too. Whether you join a socially distanced stretching class at the gym or a walking group near your home, group exercise can help you meet new people or spend time with old friends. A group class is a great social event, and your workout buddies will help you stay active and motivated. Fitness classes or groups will give you a sense of community to help with feelings of loneliness or isolation during the week. Keep an eye on your community’s guidelines for gathering during COVID-19, and stick to solo exercises until it’s safe to participate in group fitness activities again.
Contact Clover Health
You’ve heard that exercising is good for you, so make exercise a priority by enrolling in the SilverSneakers® program, which is available to all Clover Health members at no cost. Contact Clover Health today to learn more about our plans which all include Silversneakers and other supplemental benefits so we can help you get started on your health and fitness journey. We’re available from 8am to 8pm local time, 7 days a week,* at 1-800-836-6890.
This article was medically reviewed by Dr. Sophia Chang.
Published on 2/26/21
Photo credit: Getty