Whether you are younger or older, exercise is good for all parts of your body. However, many older adults don’t realize that physical activity improves your mental well-being too.

Physical activity can improve your memory, help you sleep better at night and increase your overall energy — and all those things can boost your mood and increase confidence.

How Exercise Improves Mental Health

Studies show that exercise works as a natural depression and anxiety treatment. [1]

When you work out, your brain releases powerful endorphins that energize your mind, body, and spirit. Those endorphins work within your brain to create a sense of well-being, and they can be a great natural supplement to any other measures you might be taking to reduce depression or anxiety. In fact, exercise even increases BDNF in your brain — which is what many antidepressant medications do — so you can get a bit of a natural medical boost from a brisk walk or water aerobics class.

Plus, forcing yourself to get up and move can take your mind off of worries, providing a break from negative thoughts or daily tedium.

Movement Increases Cognitive Function

Research shows that physical activity of any kind gets the blood flowing around the brain’s frontal cortex. This region of the brain controls a person’s ability to speak and organize. Since many older adults experience reduced blood flow as they age, it’s critical to get it flowing so the frontal cortex functions at its highest levels.

Teams at Harvard Medical School and Dana-Farber have even conducted research that shows why exercise helps your brain work better. According to their study, exercise causes your body to release a molecule that promotes cognition and even protects your brain against degeneration.

Exercise Now Can Reduce Dementia Later

Studies show that exercise in early years helps reduce the risk of many issues in later years, but it’s never too late to start some healthy habits. You should always discuss new exercise regimens with your healthcare professional, but if you’re able to join in on a bit of cardio, it could be good for your memory.

Research from the University of British Columbia indicates that there is a clear connection between regular physical activity and a reduced risk that someone will develop Alzheimer’s disease [2].

What Exercises Should Older Adults Include?

According to Harvard Medical School, there are four types of physical activities you should add to your exercise regimen including endurance (aerobic), strength training, flexibility and balance exercises.

If you can exercise for at least 30 minutes a day, you could see more than mental health benefits. Exercise helps stimulate the growth of new cells, reduces resistance to insulin and decreases inflammation. Aside from the mental health benefits, exercise increases your quality of life by improving your physical function.

An Independent Living Retirement Community That Encourages Activity

At Riddle Village, we offer our residents an independent lifestyle that includes a fitness center, full-time fitness trainer, water aerobics classes, yoga, bocce ball, and so much more. Contact our team or give us a call today at 610-891-3700 to learn more about what it’s like to live in our retirement community.

[1] https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depression/in-depth/depression-and-exercise/art-20046495
[2] https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/05/170516124023.htm