Staying Active- Later life is often described as the last stage of life, and the exact age can be different depending on who you ask. Senior citizen/retirement age is considered to be age 65 and older in South Carolina, which may not seem like the end stage of life to most people.
However, the life expectancy in the Palmetto state is 77, so age 70 or 75 may be considered later life. No matter what age range you consider to be in later life, here are six benefits of staying active.
Here are six benefits of staying active:
1: Boosts Your Energy and Confidence
Exercise is a well-known energy booster because it increases oxygen circulation within the body. Many people would assume that exercising would only drain their energy levels, but that increase in oxygen is what allows your body to function more efficiently. Exercise also can be a great confidence booster. You don’t need to be a weightlifter or the fastest runner to feel confident— even the simplest forms of exercise can boost your confidence.
South Carolina is known for its beaches (Myrtle Beach and Hilton Head), and long walks on the beach are a great form of exercise that can help boost your confidence and energy, plus lower your stress levels.
2: Helps Relieve Stress
As mentioned above, walking (especially on a beach) can help relieve stress, but any exercise, in general, is great at lowering stress levels. The reason behind this fact is scientific: when we exercise, our brains produce endorphins which are natural pain relievers, increases mood, and also relieve stress.
Stress is also a major cause of many health problems, in addition to not exercising and not eating healthy. In South Carolina, the leading cause of death is heart disease, and too much stress isn’t good for the heart. This combined with not exercising further increases the risk of heart disease and other illnesses.
3: Improves Your Mood
The reason that exercise improves your mood is the same reason it decreases stress: it allows the brain to release endorphins, serotonin, dopamine, and other “feel-good” hormones that improve mood. Exercising also helps you to get a better night’s sleep, which can also help improve your mood.
Better sleep helps you feel more refreshed during the day— just don’t engage in vigorous exercise too late in the day because that could make it harder to fall asleep.
4: Keeps You Out of Assisted Living
Staying active in later life can also decrease your chances of having to live in an assisted living facility. Those who live in these facilities need help with some of the basic daily activities due to decreased mobility. Lack of exercise leads to a decrease in mobility as we age and also increases the risk of certain diseases that can also decrease mobility.
South Carolina’s 330+ assisted living facilities aren’t the desired place for many of the Palmetto state’s residents. The majority of senior citizens all over the country would prefer to remain in their homes (age in place) as opposed to moving into another residence. This could also be due to the high incidence of elder abuse in assisted living facilities in South Carolina and the entire U.S.
5: Makes Everyday Tasks Much Easier
Regular exercise increases your strength, keeping you out of assisted living while also making it easier for you to perform everyday tasks. As we get older, we tend to move less, and less movement can contribute to a decrease in mobility. Senior citizens should focus on exercises like water aerobics and yoga because they’re low-impact activities that also strengthen the muscles.
Everyday tasks are usually referred to as activities of daily living (ADL), and the inability to perform certain ADLs is the reason many senior citizens have to move into assisted living. There are basic ADLs and then there are instrumental ADLs. The basic ADLs are bathing, toileting, dressing, feeding, and mobility.
The more complex, instrumental ADLs are things like:
- Housekeeping and cooking
- Managing money and medications
- Using communication devices
Seniors having trouble with one or more of the instrumental ADLs may still be able to live independently, while seniors having trouble with one or more basic ADLs usually have to move into assisted living.
6: Reduces Your Risk of Pain and Falls
Finally, exercising in later life can decrease the risk of the number one way that seniors get injured: falls. Elder falls account for a huge number of fatal and non-fatal injuries among those over the age of 65. This is because as we age, our bones and muscles become weaker, our eyesight tends to deteriorate, and even our balance decreases. While exercising doesn’t necessarily improve eyesight, it does help increase balance and muscle/bone strength to help reduce the risk of falls.
Ideally, you should start exercising as early as possible, but it’s never too late to start getting more active— as long as you still have your mobility. It’s recommended that adults of all ages should aim for at least 150 minutes of exercise per week.
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