Improving Senior Mental Health with Exercise
Updated: Apr 11
It’s no secret that exercise is vital to the growth and maintenance of our physical health, but it is also just as crucial for our mental health. Maintaining our bodies becomes a bit of a challenge as we age and some exercises have to be let go of, but that doesn’t mean we should ever neglect our bodies. We must do our best to stay active. The wonderful thing about activity is there’s all kinds of things to do, and you should find the best activities for your needs and abilities.
Helps Improve Happiness
While the thought of exercising and working out may not be the most exciting, it is still widely known that exercise can help improve and regulate our moods. Exercising causes our body to release endorphins and our brain uses these to help improve our moods.
Hormones such as serotonin and dopamine are released during physical activities and these help us feel more accomplished and energetic. It also aids in the battle against stress.
For seniors, depression and anxiety are common problems that exercise can help fend off. Moving our bodies and becoming more in tune with its abilities helps boost our self-confidence. It shows us, in a very obvious way, that we are still capable.
Helps Our Social Life
Exercising and socializing are crucial in maintaining mental health in our seniors. As we age, meeting people can become more and more burdensome and this can lead to social isolation. Feelings of isolation can quickly turn into depressive feelings and these in turn can begin to effect our physical health as well. Finding and taking exercise classes with a group is a great way to socialize and improve your physical and mental health. It’s a win-win!
There are all kinds of social exercise classes for seniors, from water aerobics to dance classes and even town walks or hikes.
Helps Improve Sleep
Sleep is one of the most essential activities for anyone, regardless of their age. Insomnia is a major problem in the senior community and can have terribly cascading effects on one's mental and physical health. Exercise is recommended as a simple and effective way to help improve our sleep habits and keep insomnia at bay.
Regular exercise and activity helps the brain fall into slumber quicker and aids in achieving deep sleep. With regular exercise, you’ll begin to sleep more soundly and wake up refreshed and ready to take on the day.
Helps Brain Function
Keeping our brains active and engaged is a must for people of all ages, but even more so for seniors. And while puzzles and games are certainly nice tools to help, it doesn’t come close to the kind of assistance we get from getting consistent and quality exercise.
As we mentioned earlier, exercise helps promote the creation and absorption of many chemicals in the brain. These also help reduce inflammation, and promote the growth of new blood vessels in the brain. The increase in quality sleep also helps with learning and memory. So, from a variety of angles, exercising helps our brains flourish.
Exercising causes our body to send more blood to our brain and this helps keep brain cells healthy. Keeping our brain cells healthy is integral in helping fight off neurodegenerative diseases that many elders suffer from. While exercise is not a cure, per se, it is one of the best preventative measures that one can take to fend off neurodegenerative diseases.