Regular Exercise Benefits a Senior's Mind and Body

By , SparkPeople Blogger
My grandma was a regular walker in the later years of her life.  She never wanted to walk near her Florida condominium because she didn’t want her neighbors to see what she was up to.  So she’d drive to a private beach a few miles away and walk in their parking lot.  (You couldn’t actually see the beach from the parking lot, but that’s another story.)  I remember she looked forward to those walks because they made her feel good.  Eventually she stopped walking, which was right around the time that both her physical and mental health started to decline.  New research validates the idea that regular exercise for seniors has more than just physical benefits.
The study, published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, looked at data from over 100,000 Austrailian seniors (age 65 and over).    Researchers found that 8.4% of the men and women were experiencing some sort of psychological distress such as anxiety or depression.   “Compared to those with no psychological distress, the risk of physical disability was more than four times higher among those with any level of psychological distress and nearly seven times higher among those with moderate levels.  The researchers also found that seniors who were more physically active were less likely to have physical disabilities.”
This is just one example of how exercise can have a “trickle down” effect on health.   Regular exercise helps prevent disease and other physical issues.  For seniors, staying healthy helps them keep their independence and successfully continue with activities of daily living.  This in turn, can help prevent mental issues (such as depression) that often come with a loss of independence. 
Whether you’re a senior looking to start an exercise program, or you’re trying to help an aging family member or friend become more active, SparkPeople’s Senior Health Lifestyle Center is a great place to start.  You’re never too old to start exercising.  Even if it’s just a 5 minute walk outside to get some fresh air and sunshine, the benefits to your mental and physical health can be significant.
What do you think?  If you’re a senior who exercises regularly, what kinds of mental and physical benefits have you found?

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I walk 10,000+ steps most days. No meds, no health problems. I'm 71. I started walking about 10 years ago and soon, it became a way of life. Report
LOSER05 1/25/2021
thanks Report
GETULLY 12/1/2020
Dearly Beloved and I walk as much as we can. Report
_CYNDY55_ 11/20/2020
Thank you Report
RCLYKE 9/25/2020
Great article Report
CECELW 9/12/2020
agreed~ Report
PLCHAPPELL 9/11/2020
I agree. Report
PATRICIAANN46 5/26/2020
Thank You................ Report
NEPTUNE1939 3/31/2020
ty Report
Guess at age 69 I'm a senior (GULP) and exercise every day and have been doing that since 2013. Probably in better shape now than at any point in my life. Love my life and probably being retired is part of it, but I feel great and look great. No matter what I always feel better and more energized after I workout. Report
I’m 76 and my husband is 79. I do virtual walks on the treadmill and swim; my husband figure skates twice weekly, for 2 hours each day, and is teaching our granddaughter to skate and to ski. We both garden. I definitely sleep better when I exercise. Report
I have to exercise every day. Report
Great article. TY! Report
Great information Report
Dearly Beloved and I finally ditched shoveling snow for a walk along the river yesterday. Saw a lot of eagles. Report
From the time my Mom was in her 40's (or earlier) she did a fast 30 min walk 6 days/week. Even in her mid 80's she still did the 30's minutes although getting slower. She was still walking with me or her aid in her late 80's. Sadly dementia did set in but physically she stayed pretty strong up to the end, which was almost 94. Report
I read somewhere that "good health takes constant vigilance" and I know that I am responsible for maintaining my health, which at age 76 is still very good. But, I can be very lazy about that, so Spark People helps to keep me motivated with good articles like this. Thank heaven for SP! Report
Great article. Report
Dearly Beloved and I walk most every day. In the summer early mornings usually give a deer or two to watch for a bit. Report
I really enjoy Maranda Esmond White classical stretch on PBS! I have it set up to record every Monday morning.I remember watching it several years ago and it was too easy for me to do. Now at 62 I enjoy it – she really focuses on getting movement in the entire body that as I’ve aged I lost. Report
I finally got hubby out walking with me regularly last summer. It has made a great difference on the way we both feel and for hubby he isn't so fatigued at the end of the day because he feels more energized by being mobile. Report
Thanks for the article and all the comments. Inspiration!! Report
Thanks for your article today, I enjoyed it and agree, I'm 77 and go to the gym on M. W. and Fridays for about an hour and half. I love all the machines,. I also have a small family gym at home which I can use to get my exercise, on the days I don't go to the gym.I live in Ca. and have a pool to swim in the Summer. Exercise and eating healthy are the keys to really feeling good at my age.. I haven't had a weight problem, so try to maintain about 120 to 130's.. I love SparkPeople for the Motivation I get of coming on here every day. Many interesting article. I'm Thankful for my medical insurance, it pays for my Gym expense. Report
Good article. Thank you! Report
Pilates classes for several years helped me to recover from bi-lateral total knee replacement faster than norm. And they have helped with balance and overall conditioning. Report
Thanks for the info for older people Report
Walking is a big component in my routines. Report
I'm 65, and do walking or exercise videos and strength training as well as stretching. Report
I am 82 and a full-time college prof. Creating new classes and being with young people three or more days a week keeps my mind stimulated. I live in Hawaii, so walking can be year-round. Even in the rain, it's nice and warm. Of course, just teaching on my feet is activity, too. I pace and walk around the classroom, plus walk around the campus. I realize not everyone can live in a perpetually warm and beautiful climate, but no matter where you live, do whatever you need to do in order to keep your mind and body active. Eating right helps, also! Report
we walk 3 to 5 miles every day but Saturday. It helps with our arthritis and we sleep better. We walk rain, snow , wind and down to 10 degrees. ( we bundle in layers ) We both love the outdoors. I am 61 and hubby is 71 . Report
Regular exercise is definitely a mood enhancer. At 67, I run, swim and cycle regularly. Have done 4 marathons and am training for a 70.3 Ironman. I always feel better after a workout. You don't need to go to extremes with exercise, a short walk or jog will elevate your spirit. It will help you maintain weight too, if done regularly. Report
I really believe being active makes a huge difference. After a fall, my (very active till then) Grandmother stopped walking. Walking kept her in shape and was a way for her to go meet with her friends and socialize. Mentally, she's never been the same since then, it's like her zest for life was snuffed out. Report
I believe this 100%. My Dad was physically active and mentally acute until age of 91. He had to go into a nursing home for various reasons, but is still quite mentally well. Report
My grandmother is 94 years old, and it was only very recently (in the past 1.5 years) that her health started to decline. She had a fall, and walking after that has been a challenge. Even so, for the first 92 years of her life she was healthy, independent, and sharp as a tack. And if you ask her, she'll tell you it's because she had challenging work (elementary teacher) and went for long walks every single day. Exercise really DOES keep you young! Report
I'm 68 and did a marathon last year. I like the classes at my gym and I run, bike and kayak a lot. What's interesting is that I was not very athletic or active earlier in my life. It just wasn't of any interest to me. I'm still not fast and I'm not one of the better ones in my classes, but once I decided who cares what anyone thinks, I've had a great time and surpassed all my expectations. I love this phase of my life!!! Report
Wow all I know is my dad stopped being active after he retired and he succumbed to Alzheimer's 3 years ago his younger brother has outlived him now and is still going strong. Report
My mother was a sporty person and as she began to suffer from Alzheimers she'd go for walks and forget where she was and who she was. She's one of the lucky ones as my brother and his wife look after her. During the day she has a carer. Mother is now 96 and still capable of walking but needs to be guided all the way as she's forgotten most things. Report
I guess I'm a senior (68), but I sure don't feel like one. Most of it is because I go to the gym 5 days a week. I spend Thursdays with my 3 lively grandsons and I think the only reason I can keep up with them is because of my daily sessions on the treadmill. I also do yoga once or twice a week. I still work and am in better shape than most of the youngsters I work with. I would like to push myself to do more strength training but have trouble motivating myself to go to that part of the gym, Report
So happy to have read this article. I am a senior and have been very active most of my life but, must admit, over the past year, I have become less so partly because of some physical limitations. It seems now, the less I do, the less I want to do. This was a good wakeup for me, I plan to be around for a long time so, I will try to push past the pain and, "just do it" Report
Walking is a great exercise for all ages, however I've noticed in my class as a Barry Method Teacher that Senior Citizen loves physical challenges just like anyone else.
As we know, challenge can keep us motivated and most importantly in shape.
Being a fitness and rehabilitation trainer for the past 20 years, I am constantly surprised (as well as my clients) how physically strong and capable our Senior Citizen clients are when put to the challenge.
Having a unique program called the Barry Method, which is a dual combination of yoga and Pilates on a gravity system, clients with knee pain, back pain, arthritis and/or stiffness, can experience a full body workout without having to sacrifice sweat with mild aerobic.
Since we use the gravity board in our fitness/rehab routine, body alignment and mobility are safely challenged to its optimum level. The Barry Method routine allows anyone, at any age, experience full and accurate Yoga alignments - which is crucial in getting optimal results quickly without suffering with pain or discomfort.
Classes of the Barry Method are innovative, fun and guaranteed to heal and restore one's body, regardless of age; back to full range of motion with grace and ease.

Just because certain physical limitations are bound to develop over the years as we age, we still want challenge and the ability to feel alive and strong.
Choosing the right workout can be our “fountain of youth” if we play it with passion. Report
I'll be 65 this summer and I've been an active walker for about 10 years. I look forward to both my daily walks (about 30 minutes) and my "long" walks (60 to 120 minutes). When the weather is nasty, I put on a DVD, but it isn't the same as being outside in the fresh air (rain?, snow?). Report
I remember a similar situation with my grandmother. In her 50s and 60s she was quite active, regularly walking longer distances in the hilly parts of Pacific Grove. In her 70s she first stopped walking as much, then sort of withdrew, kept the shades drawn so her room was dark, couldn't stand to have great-grandkids around because they were noisy and moved too much. She survived to a few years past 90, but wasn't happy and active the way several of the other great-aunts were - those who lived to their late 90s and one to 103. Report
Walking is wonderful for relieving stress. Problems still exist, but they are not as pressing or depressing after a good walk. The real problem is walking into a state of oblivion that the problems do not esist. Report
I do 10K Volksmarching (walking) events regularly. These events are nationwide, in fact I am working on collecting an event in all 50 states (I have 6 to go). To find out seach youtube for the volkswalk video Report
I am a 65 year old who still works full time and I try to do some form of exercise each day. I think I feel better now than I did in my late 40's & 50's. I had planned to retire this year but now so glad I didn't as I think activity is what makes me feel so good both mentally and physically. Report