By Abbey Marra
Maintaining an active lifestyle throughout the pandemic has proven to be difficult for people of all ages, but with a higher risk of serious complications from COVID-19, our nation’s seniors have been particularly affected by the reduction of physical activities.
According to the CDC, physical activity is essential to healthy aging, and remains one of the most important things seniors can do to manage conditions including arthritis, heart disease, and diabetes. For older adults, the CDC recommends 150 minutes per week of moderate aerobic exercise–anything that gets your heart beating faster–as well as two days per week of muscle-strengthening activities–anything that makes your muscles work harder than usual.
In addition to disease prevention and improving overall immune function, the mental health benefits of regular exercise are endless. Movement produces the “feel good” hormones, endorphins, which relieve stress and provide feelings of happiness and satisfaction. Exercise has also been linked to a lower risk of dementia, with multiple studies suggesting that physical activity boosts cognitive function and fine motor skills.
Exercise also increases strength and flexibility, and older adults who are at a higher risk for dangerous falls can drastically reduce this risk by improving their balance and coordination through an active lifestyle.
One major benefit of regular exercise that has been stifled by the pandemic has been social engagement. Seniors who had been taking part in walking groups, fitness classes, or gardening clubs faced an abrupt halt in their exercise routine, and a more sedentary lifestyle soon became the norm.
Around the world, the coronavirus caused much of our work and social lives to migrate to the online space, and fitness routines quickly followed suit. YouTube offers countless free strength and mobility training videos often tailored for older adults, including pilates, yoga, and tai chi.
Fine Art Miracles has regularly touted the benefits of movement therapy for groups and individuals, and throughout the pandemic we have continued to offer virtual instruction for our members to enjoy physical activities in the midst of isolation.
For aging adults, incorporating exercise into a regular routine has been shown to not only prevent disease and improve cognitive function, but also strengthen social ties, and most importantly, improve well-being and mental health.