Exercise for seniors: This is what exercise in old age can do for you:
Why is exercise so frequently recommended for seniors? We explain why!
People in Germany are not only tending to get older – older People are also increasingly pursuing sporting activities. According to a report by the Federal Agency for Civic Education (Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung) some 44 percent of all senior citizens over 65 exercise at least occasionally today. In the 60s this figure was no more than 5 percent.
Exercise for seniors is widely seen as a sensible measure from which older People can hope to achieve a higher level of fitness and also an overall improved sense of well-being. What is behind the trend of exercise for seniors and what positive effects on health does it really have?
This is why exercise so frequently recommended for seniors
The Federal Centre for Health Education (Bundeszentrale für gesundheitliche Aufklärung – “BZgA”) is one of the biggest promoters of exercise for seniors. On its Information Portal for Senior Citizens the public authority addresses the many positive effects that exercise can have on the body and mind in old age.
Farid Zitoun, alternative practitioner and head of the Naturheilzentrum Bottrop (NABO), summarises the most important points as follows:
Sports for seniors, or physical exercise in general, can significantly improve health. The positive effects on the cardiovascular system have been very well researched for quite some time. Sport in old age can stabilise blood pressure and consequently in particular reduce high blood pressure as well as the slow development of arteriosclerosis.
Studies have also shown that the risk of diabetes, osteoporosis, stroke and even cancer can be reduced through exercise for seniors. In addition, exercise can improve coordination and thus reduce the risk of falls. The list of possible effects is very long.”
Exercise in old age is even thought to have at least a partial preventive effect against dementia. You can also learn more in the article “Dancing Dementia Away” on our website.
The general sense of wellbeing can also be improved
In addition to the physical benefits, there are also a number of possible positive effects on well-being, as Zitoun explains further:
“The mental or psychological effects of exercise for senior citizens also explain why essentially every health institution – including our own – tends to advise older People to pursue such activities.
The actual movement itself helps the body to reduce stress hormones. People often feel better after a bit of exercise than they did before – but that is only the immediate effect.
It is essentially also the case that older People who still actively exercise are also generally fitter and can participate more actively in life. They can therefore organise their daily lives more independently and meet friends or relatives more often. This makes everyday life more varied and less lonely.”
Guest author Kerstin Pröse also discusses these and similar effects of exercise in old age in the NABO blog entitled “Fitness in Old Age”. In this she shares her expertise from her many years of work as a departmental manager at the Diakonisches Werk Gladbeck-Bottrop-Dorsten of Diakonie Deutschland.
The recipe for success: Taking it step by step
Exercise for senior citizens is therefore recommended by many experts for good reason.
“However, it is important to start small, taking into account your own fitness level and any pre-existing conditions, before just jumping into exercise for senior citizens. It is important to discuss this first with your trusted alternative practitioner or doctor, because otherwise exercise could actually be harmful in old age.
But if the exercise programme is appropriate for you and medically agreed, everyone can get started. And it really doesn’t matter how much or little you do. At first, everyone needs to make a gentle start. Above all, it should be fun,” says Zitoun.
Those who are interested can find specific exercises for senior citizens only, which everyone can easily incorporate into their everyday life, inter alia on a further BZgA portal. These also include various stretching exercises.
According to the sources, even a simple walk can bring a lot of benefits, especially if it is done regularly.
Further information at the Naturheilzentrum Bottrop
Ultimately, for Bottrop health expert Farid Zitoun, what really matters is motivating People of all ages to pay greater attention to their own health:
“Exercise, whether for senior citizens or in younger years, is one of the most effective, natural and sustainable remedies for a wide variety of diseases and disorders. Unfortunately, many have problems with overcoming their “weaker self” and instead look for an easy pill that will solve their problems instead.
This is a great shame. Because sport can be a lot of fun. I would like to encourage everyone to find their Personal feel-good exercise. Incidentally, we often advise exactly the same to best agers or the 50+ generation or their relatives who come to our practice for a variety of reasons.”
In their latest YouTube video, Farid Zitoun and his colleague Christian Rüger once again summarise the positive facets of exercise for senior citizens and show some of the exercises that even beginners can use to make their everyday lives more active.