As we age, our bodies undergo a wide range of changes that can impact our physical and mental health. And while we cannot stop the normal degeneration that happens as we age, we can have some control over how well we actually do age! Studies have shown that regular exercise can actually help to slow down the ageing process and promote healthy ageing.
First, let’s take a look at what ageing does to our bodies. As we age, our muscles, bones, and joints lose mass and density, making us more prone to injuries and fractures. That is why fall prevention programs are prioritised in elderly care, because as bones become more brittle and muscle mass reduces when they get older, the risk of getting a fracture during a fall increases drastically.
Secondly, our metabolism slows down, leading to weight gain and a higher risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes. We also experience a decline in cognitive function and an increased risk of mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety.
So, how can active movement help combat these changes? Here are a few ways backed by high quality of research:
- Maintains muscle mass and bone density: Research published in 2017 found that resistance training, such as weightlifting or bodyweight exercises can significantly increase muscle mass and strength, as well as improve bone mineral density in older adults to reduce the risk of injuries. Another study in 2018 found that exercise can help prevent bone loss and reduce the risk of fractures in postmenopausal women.
- Boosts metabolism: Exercise can help boost metabolism, allowing the body to burn calories more efficiently and reducing the risk of weight gain and obesity-related diseases. A study published in 2013 found that exercise can lead to significant improvements in metabolic health, including increased insulin sensitivity, decreased body fat, and improved lipid profiles.
- Improves cardiovascular health: Exercise can improve heart health, reducing the risk of heart disease, stroke, and other cardiovascular conditions. A meta-analysis published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine in 2018 support the claim that exercise can significantly reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, as well as improve cardiorespiratory fitness, blood pressure, and lipid profiles.
- Reduces inflammation: Chronic inflammation has been linked to a range of age-related diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis, heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and cancer. A meta-analysis published in 2016 found that exercise can significantly reduce systemic inflammation in older adults, particularly those with chronic diseases.
- Enhances cognitive function: Regular exercise has been shown to improve cognitive function, including memory, attention, and processing speed in older adults, supported by a research published in 2017.
- Boosts mood: Exercise can help boost mood and reduce the risk of depression and anxiety, two common mental health conditions in older adults. Based on the recent evidence, exercise can significantly improve symptoms of depression in adults, particularly when performed at moderate to high intensity of physical activities. Another meta-analysis published in 2019 found that exercise can improve mental well-being and reduce symptoms of anxiety in adults, regardless of age or fitness level.
“Exercise can be a powerful tool in promoting healthy ageing and combating age-related changes in the body.”
Overall, exercise can be a powerful tool in promoting healthy ageing and combating age-related changes in the body. However, it’s important to consult with a healthcare provider before starting any new exercise routine, especially if you have any chronic health conditions, or if you are experiencing pain in any part of your body. A chiropractor or physiotherapist can help you gain back the mobility and strength needed to continue on with your exercise program! Read on to our next article to see how a chiropractor or physiotherapist can help with getting you back to improved function.