Millions of Americans suffer from illnesses that can be prevented or improved through regular physical activity. And it’s never too late to start. In fact, seniors lacking mobility have found improvements in their health by doing low-impact exercises and stretches from a chair.
Exercise can ward off chronic disease and help you maintain your independence and mobility. But the older we get in the United States, the less active we are, according to a study published in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Researchers analyzed data from a 2014 national health survey, focusing on adults ages 50 or older. Over all, about 28% of those people had not exercised in a month. But inactivity increased with age: non-exercisers amounted to about 25% of people ages 50 to 64, about 27% of people 65 to 74, and about 35% of people 75 or older.
Exercising regularly can help reduce the risk of developing or dying from a variety of illnesses such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and high blood pressure and can improve health in the following ways, reports the CDC:
- Reduces the risk of dying prematurely.
- Reduces the risk of dying prematurely from heart disease.
- Reduces the risk of developing diabetes.
- Reduces the risk of developing high blood pressure.
- Helps reduce blood pressure in people who already have high blood pressure.
- Reduces the risk of developing colon cancer.
- Reduces feelings of depression and anxiety.
- Helps control weight.
- Helps build and maintain healthy bones, muscles, and joints.
- Helps older adults become stronger and better able to move about without falling.
- Promotes psychological well-being.
The CDC also reported the following health burdens that could be improved through physical activity:
- 5 million people have coronary heart disease.
- 5 million people suffer from a heart attack in a given year.
- 8 million people have adult-onset (non-insulin-dependent) diabetes.
- 95,000 people are newly diagnosed with colon cancer each year.
- 250,000 people suffer from a hip fractures each year.
- 50 million people have high blood pressure.
- Over 60 million people (a third of the population) are overweight.
Be sure to visit your health care professional before starting a new exercise program.