With increasing age, the body stops functioning the way it used to and all the cells become less efficient. With the increase in loss of muscle mass, it becomes difficult for the elderly to perform even daily basic tasks. Thus, exercise in the 80s seems a little far-fetched. However, much research has shown that any type of movement or physical activity is better than none.
Thus, to simply address the dilemma of whether it is possible to exercise in the 80s, well the simple answer from the experts is: yes, it is very much possible and in fact, quite beneficial.
Exercise in the 80s
It is a common notion that elderly people should have as much bed rest as possible and should not exert themselves. Contrary to popular belief, a little bit of movement is everything that is needed to be as fit as a horse even at the fragile age of 80.
Several studies have supported this, for instance, according to a recent study conducted at the University of Birmingham, men in their 70s and 80s who had never engaged in a regular exercise routine were still able to gain muscle mass just as effectively as those of a similar age who had trained constantly throughout their lives.
In this study, the muscle cells were studied before and after exercise sessions of two groups, one, that was in their prime age and the other in their late 70s. The finding of this study showed that both groups were equally capable of gaining muscle during exercise, contrary to expectations that the expert athletes would do it more effectively.
Thus the study concluded that it does not matter whether you have not been a regular exerciser throughout your life, you may still benefit from exercise, the moment you start it. Although it is always advised to start early and exercise regularly!
Benefits of exercising in the 80s
There are uncountable benefits of exercising, regardless of one’s age. If you are in your late 80s or know someone who’s a senior citizen, here are a few benefits listed down so you could start exercising and bring about a positive shift in your life!
Regular exercise aids in preventing diseases
Numerous prevalent ailments, including diabetes and heart disease, can be prevented by following a regular physical exercise schedule, according to studies. Exercise enhances immune function generally, which is crucial for seniors whose immune systems are frequently weakened. Even simple activities like walking can be an effective tool for managing diseases that can be avoided.
Enhanced mental health
Exercise has a virtually limitless list of advantages for mental health. Exercise releases endorphins, the “feel good” hormone, as commonly known. It reduces stress levels dramatically and makes you feel content and joyful. Exercise has also been related to better sleep, which is crucial for senior citizens who frequently have insomnia and altered sleep patterns.
Lesser risks of falling
Falls are more likely to occur in senior citizens, which hampers one’s confidence and steals away their autonomy. Exercise increases balance and coordination while also enhancing strength and flexibility, lowering the risk of falls. Fall recovery times are substantially longer for seniors, so anything that can be done to prevent falls in the first place is essential.
Improved social skills
Exercise may be turned into an enjoyable social activity. This can be achieved by joining a club and engaging with fellow members. For seniors to experience a sense of purpose and prevent loneliness or despair, maintaining strong social contacts is crucial. The most important thing is to select an activity you enjoy doing so that working out will never feel like a chore.
Consistent exercise and developing motor skills are known for enhancing one’s cognitive function. No matter when you start exercising, numerous studies indicate that those who are physically active have a lower risk of developing dementia.
With increasing age, the risk of neurodegenerative disorders increases for eg. Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, dementia, etc. No matter when you start exercising, numerous studies indicate that those who are physically active have a lower risk of developing these disorders.
Best exercises to do at the age of 80 and above
You may not be able to do intense weight training at the age of 80 hence here’s a list of exercises that are safe and beneficial for senior citizens
One of the finest and simplest aerobic exercises for seniors is walking, which can be adjusted to the person’s preferred pace, distance, and duration. Although it needs good balance, using a cane or walker can make it more efficient. It doesn’t require much assistance or any special equipment and the results of constant walking are great in the longer run.
A modified version of walking is water aerobics. Water aerobics has recently gained enormous popularity among people of all ages, but seniors in particular. For patients with arthritis and other types of joint discomfort, exercising in the water is perfect since the buoyancy of the water reduces the strain on the joints.
Water also provides natural resistance, thus strength training does not require the use of weights. Your strength, flexibility, and balance will enhance thanks to water aerobics workouts, which put no strain on your body. Thus making water aerobic an ideal exercise at the age of 80
One doesn’t need intense resistance training. A humble rubber band is enough to do the job! Rubber strips are elastic and thus give resistance to exercises while putting less strain on your body.
Exercises with resistance bands are user-friendly and suitable for beginners. Resistance band workouts are perfect for at-home training because the materials are quite economical. These exercises are also excellent for strengthening your core, which enhances balance, mobility, and posture.
Chair yoga is another type of low-impact exercise that enhances muscle strength, mobility, balance, and flexibility—all essential elements of senior health. A more accessible style of yoga than more traditional ones, chair yoga puts less strain on the joints, making it the perfect exercise to do in the 80s.
Additionally, chair yoga has been demonstrated to enhance older persons’ mental health. Regular chair yoga practitioners report better sleep, fewer cases of depression, and an overall feeling of well-being.
Here’s a list of more exercises for seniors to do at home.
Safety measures for exercising in the 80s
While exercising is great and beneficial, you must do it right along with proper precautions. Following are some tips on the same
Using the right equipment
Wear well-fitted shoes and dress comfortably and loosely so you have room to move and liberate body heat. Wear layers that can be removed when working out in cold weather.
Always warm up
It is extremely crucial to warm up before exercising. Run in place for a few minutes, take a few deep breaths, or softly practice the movements of the next exercise. Warming up prepares your body for the upcoming exercise session.
Hydration is a must
To avoid dehydration, heat stroke, and tiredness, drink plenty of water. 15 minutes before you begin exercising, drink at least a liter of water; likewise, after you are done exercising. While exercising, sip water approximately every 20 minutes.
Plan regular leisure days and days off from exercise. Exercise should be avoided if you are tired or in pain.
You can also find more safety measures here.
It is never too late to start exercising and enhancing your health! In actuality, senior citizens who start being physically and mentally active often exhibit greater benefits than their younger counterparts.
If you have not worked out in a while or have not worked out at all, you will not suffer from the same sports ailments that frequent exercisers have in later life. Simply start slowly and progress from there.