The Benefits of Staying Active in Your Later Years

Do you know what comes to mind when some people see older people? They see them as unsteady in body and feeble in mind. Here’s the bad part, for many older people, this is an accurate picture. Many older people do, in fact, reflect this image. That’s why staying active is so important. 

But your life doesn’t have to go down this road. If you decide to stay active in your later years, it can keep you from becoming old and feeble. It has many other benefits too.

So today, let’s start by looking at some of the reasons staying active in your later years is so important. Then we’ll examine some simple activities you can do to stay as mentally and physically healthy as possible.

The Truth About Aging:

Let’s face it. Nobody wants to grow old! We may desire the wisdom and experience that comes with age, but we certainly don’t want the limitations that also come with it.

Most people, if they had the option, would choose to combine youthful vigor with the wisdom we receive as we age.

Some people have taken this desire so far that they continue chasing the fountain of youth, using anything from 90-minute oxygen baths to blood transfusions from younger people. By the way, the jury is still out on most of these types of treatments.

No matter how much we would rather not age, the truth is becoming older is a reality that we all must face.

Here’s another truth. For those inactive adults, it will come sooner rather than later.

What Happens to Us as We Age:

As you age, your arteries and blood vessels stiffen. This can cause your heart to work harder to push blood through the system. This increases your risk of developing high blood pressure.

Your bones will shrink in size and density. This can result in joint pain and even fractures. Also, the muscles weaken and become less flexible, resulting in a corresponding loss of strength and balance.

To top it all off, you may become constipated more often.

But it’s not just your body that ages. Your memory can be affected as your brain ages along with your ability to solve problems.

These are only a handful of the changes you may face as you grow older. Knowing this can make the golden years seem less golden.

Aging Doesn’t Have to Mean Being “Worn Out”

My friend Rico Caveglia, who created The Ageless Living Lifestyle, says that when we call something “old”, what we mean is it’s worn out. He also tells us we don’t have to become worn out as we age.

He’s right.

There are things you can do to make old age more joyful. It’s a type of antidote to the deterioration you can experience as you age.

The best thing about this remedy is it’s nearly free.

What exactly is this treatment?

The prescription we’re talking about here is “staying active” through your later years, both physically and mentally.  

How do I define “staying active”?

For me, staying active is making the most of each day. Part of maximizing each day is living as healthy of lifestyle as possible.

To do this you need to engage in activities like exercising regularly and eating a healthy diet. You also need to make the kind of decisions that will enhance your mental, physical, and social well-being.

4 Benefits of Staying Active in Old Age:

1.    Stronger physical health.

In a National Library of Medicine article, Seals, Justice, and LaRocca write, “Regular physical activity is perhaps the lifestyle-behavioral strategy for which there is the strongest overall evidence of function-preserving effects with aging.”

Some other studies show that staying active reduces your chances of dying early by up to thirty percent. Coronary heart diseases and strokes, which according to the WHO are the first and second leading causes of death, are significantly lower in people who remain active.

When added together, it’s easy to understand why living actively positively impacts your physical health. This influence becomes even stronger as you age.

2.    Stronger mental health.

There are many mental health benefits to staying active as you get older. Studies have found that following an active lifestyle can help battle depression and reduce stress while improving your mood.

It can also help you make better decisions and boost your self-esteem.

Staying active can slow the development of mental disorders in older people like Alzheimer’s and dementia. It can also help you sleep better, helping you feel happier and more relaxed.

3.    Maintain your independence.

Regular physical activity can help you maintain your strength and flexibility. This can be vitally important especially if you don’t like the idea of depending on others as you age.

Staying active can keep your bones and muscles strong, making you less prone to falling and accidents. In turn, this can make it easier for loved ones to see that you can live more independently.

4.    Social wellness.

As we age our circle of friends shrinks. We leave work, our friends move away and eventually some die. This can make it challenging for older people to maintain an active social life.

One way you can improve your social wellness is by finding a group of soon-to-be friends to stay active with. You can engage in group workouts, take walks or exercise together in an aerobics class.

This allows you to socialize while keeping physically active.

These are only a few of the benefits older people can enjoy by staying active.

Now let’s look at some activities you can choose from.

Try These Activities:

There are many simple activities you can do to stay active, such as going to a gym, dog walking, gardening, or taking a light jog. You can also stimulate yourself mentally by reading a book or playing board games.

There are also some activities you can do that can involve both your body and your mind.

Activities for Staying Mentally and Physically Active

1.    Practice Mindfulness Meditation

Mindfulness is simply paying attention to what you are doing right now. One of the simplest ways to practice mindfulness is simply sitting or standing and paying attention to your breathing.

Here’s a easy exercise. You can do this with your eyes open or closed.

Put your hands on your stomach at the level of your belly button.

Take a deep, relaxed breath into your stomach so that you can feel your hands being pushed out as your stomach expands. As you take your breath, try to visualize the air coming through your nose, down your windpipe, into your lungs and expanding at the bottom of your lungs.

Hold your breath for a beat or two and then slowly push your stomach back in. As you do, imagine the air leaving your lungs is taking all the negative energy from your body.  

Visualize the air moving up from the bottom of your lungs, up through your esophagus and out your nose.

Continue to breathe like this for at least three to five minutes.

2.    Join a Tai Chi Class

Tai Chi is a practice that involves a series of slow gentle movements and physical postures used to develop your body and mind together, as one interconnected system

According to the National Center for Complimentary and Integrative Health, “Tai Chi may be beneficial in improving balance and preventing falls in older adults and people with Parkinson’s disease.” It can also help older people improve their balance which may reduce falls.

Developed as a martial art in 12th Century China, today Tai Chi has become more focused on promoting one’s health. These slow, precise movements not only stretch and exercise your body, but also develop your cardiovascular system.

These classes are usually done in a group so not only will you staying active mentally and physically, but socially as well. There are many people who teach Tai Chi around the world, find one you like and begin enjoying the benefits.

3.    Join a Yoga Class

Yoga is a word that is derived from the Sanskrit word “yuji.” It’s literal meaning is that of a yoke or union that brings the mind and body together.

It involves poses that are designed to encourage relaxation while reducing stress. A Yoga practice incorporates stretching, breathing exercises and meditation. Like Tai Chi, Yoga can be used for developing your cardiovascular system.

There are Yoga teachers around the world, and, like Tai Chi, these classes are also almost always done in groups.  

Make Staying Active a Lifetime Goal

Staying active may not be the fountain of youth, yet its benefits are comparable, as anyone who practices in their later years will attest to.

While there is no way to fend off the finality of life, you can live your golden years more enjoyably when you keep these tips in mind.

I hope this encourages you to stay active for the rest of your life!

modern mindfulness

Ready to find peace and joy in the midst of everyday chaos? Here’s your chance to begin your journey towards mindfulness with Modern Mindfulness: A Beginner’s Guide To Finding Calm and Clarity In A Chaotic World. Pick up a copy today and soothe those frayed nerves!

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