Physical exercise is especially beneficial in older people, not only to strengthen the body, but also to improve mental performance and emotional well-being.
Exercise in older people is a fundamental pillar for healthy aging. In the last stage of life, staying active is equally or more important than in other vital moments. Indeed, physical activity has multiple benefits in older people.
According to the recommendations of the World Health Organization, people aged 65 and over should get at least 150 minutes a week of moderate exercise .
On the other hand, before an older adult begins to exercise, it is essential to assess their health status and adapt the exercises to their physical condition. Exercise in older people should be aimed at improving their quality of life and preventing ailments, not creating new injuries.
Based on these premises, we will now review the psychological benefits of sport in older people.
1. Less likely to suffer from neurodegenerative diseases
Older people are the most likely to suffer from a neurodegenerative disease. This is because the brain is a very sensitive organ, and its rate of deterioration accelerates considerably after reaching an advanced age.
Physical activity reduces the risk of neurodegenerative diseases in older adults.
Whether a person develops a disease such as Alzheimer’s depends on many factors, both genetic and environmental. However, its onset can be delayed through an active lifestyle.
In a study from the University of Melbourne, it was found that older adults who followed an exercise program for six months showed a lower probability of developing Alzheimer’s. In addition, these improvements were maintained for 18 months after the end of the intervention.
2. Better cognitive functioning
One of the most studied effects of exercise in the elderly is its ability to improve cognitive functions such as reaction time, memory, or the ability to maintain concentration.
According to a study carried out by the University of Granada, both aerobic and anaerobic exercise is capable of producing improvements in the cognitive processes of these people. These improvements occur mainly in attention span and motor coordination.
For this reason, physical activity and sports programs for the elderly are the best intervention to maintain mental speed and slow down the typical effects of aging.
3. Less feelings of depression and anxiety
The positive effect that physical exercise has on emotional stability is well known. Such is the case that 30 minutes a day of physical activity are capable of producing a remarkable change in emotions .
In the case of older people it was not going to be less. Physical exercise is an excellent way to keep negative emotions at bay and promote positive ones.
The reasons that explain this are many: the hormones that are released after training that generate positive sensations; the feeling of confidence to fulfill what one proposes; or the power to disconnect from the stress of the daily routine.
4. Allows you to form bonds with other people
One of the main problems experienced by older people is feelings of loneliness. Isolation in these people is common since many live alone, and also hardly have contact with the people around them.
Actions such as joining a gym or a group activity, such as Pilates or yoga, is a great opportunity to meet people with similar interests. Exercise in older people increases well-being because it provides physical or psychological benefits. But it also enhances the quality of life through an improvement in social life.
Exercise is a great way to bond in adults, but also for all ages.
An active lifestyle is the key to aging healthy
In order to reach a healthy elderly age, the habits that have been acquired throughout life are essential. A good diet, adequate rest, and regular physical exercise are the keys to well-being in the last stage of life.
Lastly, and as stated at the beginning, it is essential to assess the physical condition of the elderly person before beginning a training routine . In this way, it will be possible to design the exercise program that best suits the person.