Get Moving: Health and Fitness Can Positively Impact Mental Health of Seniors

Physical activity holds tremendous benefits for seniors. So, too, does community. Senior Health and Fitness Day, held annually the last Wednesday of May, is a perfect combination of both.

Communities around the United States offer all sorts of local events aimed at keeping seniors moving. In 2016, Senior Health and Fitness Day is May 25, with activities for all fitness levels.

While this day is set aside to emphasize the importance of health and fitness, it’s beneficial for seniors throughout the year. The physical benefits are obvious—controlling weight and reducing risk of cardiovascular disease and some forms of cancer. The positive impact on mental health may not be as well understood.

But the effects are there. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), regular physical activity can keep thinking, learning and judgement skills sharp as we age. It may improve sleep and reduce the risk of depression. A 2013 study at the Center for Brain Health found that aerobic exercise helps improve memory and brain health.

Aerobic activities, or a combination of aerobics with weight-bearing exercise, three to five times per week for 30-60 minutes at a time delivers the benefits. Some research has shown that even lower levels of activity can be beneficial as well.

Physical activities, such as gardening or walking the dog, also show an impact on mental health. For optimal mental health, include both physical activity and planned exercise into your weekly routine.

Incorporating exercise can bring benefits, no matter how inactive you have previously been. However, before beginning any exercise routine, check with your physician.

Celebrate Senior Health and Fitness Day, May 25, 2016

 

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Sources:
National Senior Health and Fitness Day 2016 (http://www.fitnessday.com/senior/)
National Institutes of Health Senior Health Focus (http://nihseniorhealth.gov/exerciseforolderadults/healthbenefits/01.html )
Centers for Disease Control (http://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/pa-health/index.htm#ImproveMentalHealth)
Fisher Center for Alzheimer’s Research (https://www.alzinfo.org/articles/fitness-good-mental-health-exercise-brings-benefits/)