It’s fun and fitness month at Midnight Sun Home Care! June, in Alaska, just makes us want to get out and get active. To celebrate, we’re talking about how seniors and their families can do this in a safe, informed and enjoyable way. And, we’re helping you do that too, by launching our Senior Fitness Program: Older, Wiser, Fitter, Faster, in partnership with AlaskaFit, and by hosting the Midnight Sun Charity Golf Classic.
As our population of seniors grows, so does the amount of research on how to help seniors experience a higher quality of life, it seems. You may or may not be surprised that there is more proof than ever showing how exercise benefits people of all ages, including seniors. Let’s look at some recent evidence:
Moderate Exercise Fights High Blood Pressure
In a recent issue of the American Heart Association’s journal, Hypertension, new research indicates that men over 70 years of age who have high blood pressure can lower their risk of death with moderate levels of fitness. What does that mean? For most, it means a brisk walk for 20-40 minutes, most days of the week. And that’s just moderate fitness. The risk of death can be cut by up to 50% for those who participate in high fitness activities.
Exercise is Good for Aging Brains
Two recent studies show that exercise can boost the memory and learning capacity of the brain and slow dementia. One study looked at older women between 70 and 80 who were living independently at home. Regular aerobic exercise appeared to boost the size the area of the brain involved in verbal memory and learning. While this theory needs more study, researchers were able to recommend regular aerobic exercise to stave off mild cognitive decline. This contributes to the mounting evidence that regular exercise is good for cognitive function and brain health.
The second study suggests that physical activity interventions to prevent dementia may have the best window from midlife to older ages. Those in the study who exercised at least twice a week had a lower risk of dementia than those who were less active. This was especially notable among overweight participants.
Muscles = Longer Life
It’s been a long held belief that BMI (Body Mass Index) is a good indicator of risk in older adults, but studies are starting to show that it’s more valuable to focus on body composition than BMI. When you put all the terminology aside that means that building muscle could lengthen your life. More specifically, muscle mass seems to be an important predictor in risk of death. However, it’s important to remember that muscle alone is not enough. It’s just part of an entire approach to exercise and health that can give you higher quality day-to-day and a healthier, longer life.
Physical Activity Reduces Risk of Breast Cancer
A recent study of four million women shows that at least one hour of physical activity per day reduces the risk of breast cancer for women of all ages and sizes, regardless of their locale. The study was actually an examination of all the studies done to date regarding the relationship between exercise and breast cancer risk.
There was one notable exception: those who take hormone replacement therapy seem to cancel out the effect of the exercise.
These are just a few of the studies out there and they send one cohesive message: exercise is good for you, no matter your age. Now get out and get active!