The Importance of Physical Wellness for Seniors

February 24, 2020

The importance of physical wellness for seniors is something that cannot be overstated. Regular exercise is key to staying healthy and feeling happy. Senior living communities like McLean understand how vital physical wellness is to all aspects of healthy aging. Not only will it help build or maintain muscle and bone strength, but it can help keep your mind sharp too.

What is Physical Wellness?

To put it simply, physical wellness means taking care of your body and properly managing your physical health. If you want to truly enjoy your senior years participating in fun activities or chasing passions you may have been dreaming of and planning for most of your adult life, then you should do all you can to ensure you feel well.

There’s no denying it: Physical wellness changes as you age. There are, however, actions you can take today to help maintain or improve physical wellness for seniors, as well as prevent or slow down the onset of certain conditions and diseases. Studies have shown that exercise reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, obesity, colon cancer and breast cancer. It also decreases the risk of falls and fall-related injuries.

Achieving physical wellness doesn’t have to be hard. In fact, it can be as fun and easy as you’d like. Incorporating physical wellness into your everyday life can help you feel like a new person, bring back or retain your youthfulness and joy for life, and avoid many physical problems. Getting started is simple. Start with these suggestions:

Exercise every day
The importance of physical wellness becomes clear when attempting to exercise every day. Maintaining the stamina needed to stay active on a regular basis becomes harder with each passing year. That’s why even the little things can make a big difference. Light exercises that focus on aerobic activity, balance, flexibility and muscle strength can provide countless benefits. You can start by following recommended exercise guidelines for seniors, or listen to your body and try exercises that suit your own fitness level.

Rest and repeat
Getting enough sleep and rest is just as important to physical wellness for seniors as a healthy diet. In the same way your body needs to be active, it also needs to rest and recharge for the next day. A good night’s sleep goes a long way to help improve your energy levels and ensure you’re more physically active during your waking hours. A regular routine of seven to nine hours of sleep each night will also help prevent certain diseases and illnesses.

Eat healthy
Food is fuel, so make sure you’re feeding your body well. This also means drinking plenty of water every single day. With a well-balanced, nutritious diet, you’ll have more energy, you’ll feel better, and you may also prevent illness or disease.

Manage your medical conditions
It’s important to ensure that any medical ailments, conditions or diseases you have are properly managed before starting a new physical wellness routine. Certain daily activities can help with a variety of conditions. Some physical wellness examples include particular exercises that help reduce both blood sugar and the need for insulin injections. Small dietary changes can also improve your metabolic rate, making weight loss more attainable and sustainable. Shedding some extra pounds is also a surefire way to alleviate stress on your bones and joints, especially for seniors who are experiencing back or knee pain.

In addition to these suggestions, it’s also important to regularly visit a trusted medical professional to ensure your physical wellness is maintained as you age. Similar to a visit to get your blood pressure and heart rate checked, it’s important to check your level of wellness. For these reasons and more, it’s vital to ask yourself as you age, “What is physical wellness, and am I achieving it?” A quick way to complete this important self-assessment is by answering questions like these:

  • Do I enjoy exercising with others?
  • Do I have a network of close friends and/or family who can do these activities with me?
  • Do I make time for exercise and activity?
  • Am I taking proper care of my physical well-being?
  • Am I open to trying new exercises like yoga or barre?
  • Do I eat healthy, nutritious food?
  • Do I exercise often enough?
  • Am I as healthy as other people my age?

If you answered “no” to any of the questions above, it may mean that’s an area where you could improve the state of your physical wellness.

If you do decide to embark on a new wellness journey, you’ll be excited to see some of the many benefits of regular exercise for seniors, including:

Muscle strength
Muscle fibers decrease with age, particularly those of the “fast twitch” (phasic) variety, which govern strength and speedy contraction. These changes may be related to the more sedentary lifestyle that many seniors fall into with age. Regular exercise, however, can reverse this and increase muscle mass, and it can do so in a relatively short period of time.

Bone density begins to decline after age 40 and often accelerates once we hit 50. This means seniors are more prone to bone fractures. Exercise can reduce the risk of bone loss and osteoporosis. Weight-bearing exercise, in particular, helps keep bones healthy and strong.

Heart and lung performance
Cardiorespiratory fitness takes longer to achieve in seniors than in young people, but the physical benefits are undeniable. Regardless of age, people are able to improve their cardiorespiratory fitness through regular exercise. 

Joints relief
The joints of the body require regular movement to remain healthy. In particular, people with arthritis can benefit from aerobic and strengthening exercise programs.

Lower body fat levels
Carrying too much body fat can bring on a variety of diseases, including cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Regular exercise burns fat, increases muscle mass and speeds up the metabolism. Together, these changes can help seniors maintain an appropriate weight for their height and build.

At a community like McLean, our Independent Living lifestyle helps you get healthy and stay healthy so you can maintain physical wellness and live the life you love. If you can picture yourself in a Life Plan Community like McLean, sharing time with friends, pursuing your interests, not worrying about home maintenance or what’s for dinner, and have a secure plan for your future, you’re halfway there. To learn more about life at McLean and how we can help make your life shine, visit our Wellness page .

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