Did you know there are cognitive and emotional benefits to physical activity for the elderly? Although it is true that we often hear exercise has numerous benefits for the human body. However, what we hear less is the benefits of physical activity on the way we think and feel.
Here, at Gold Age Australia, we find physical activity to be one of the most important lifestyle factors. Through our research and experience of working with the elderly, we discovered those benefits.
Researchers have found a number of cognitive benefits in staying active as we age. It would appear that engaging in physical activity has several benefits on the functioning of the brain. Furthermore, they found that physical activity increases blood flow to the brain and improves communication between nerve cells. As a result, processing information may improve with elderly people who engage in physical activity. Also, during physical activity, the hormones known as endorphins are released. In turn, they assist the elderly to concentrate during activities. Additionally, exercise allows brain cells to grow which helps adults combat cognitive declines from ageing.
Further research has shown that exercises increase the amount of proteins located in the brain. In turn, that improves learning capabilities and memory. It is believed that the elderly who participated in the walking group benefitted from improved abilities to recall past events. Furthermore, this particular activity appeared to enhance brain function in planning and organising.
Further research has found a link between engaging in physical activity and lowered risks in developing cognitive impairments. Some studies found physical activity to be beneficial in lowering the risks and delaying the occurrence of dementia in the elderly.
Are there emotional benefits for the elderly in staying active? Firstly, the elderly that engage in regular physical activity may benefit from improvements to their immune system. Additionally, it may increase their ability to manage stress levels. More specifically, during exercise, endorphins (a hormone that affects emotions) are released. This results in less cortisol and adrenaline (stress hormones) being produced in the body. Therefore, these hormones may help the elderly to interrupt pessimistic thoughts, distract themselves from worrying and feel more relaxed.
The elderly that exercise regularly are more likely to engage in deeper sleep with the benefit of waking energised. In addition, they may feel stronger and healthier from exercising, resulting in improved self-confidence. When the elderly face challenges in their lives, physical activity may act as a healthy coping mechanism. This may assist them in more effectively displaying resilience. Furthermore, exercise may assist the elderly by providing meaning and structure to their day.
Last but not least, the elderly that participate in group physical activity sessions can socialise with others and make new friends. At Gold Age Australia, we love to see the residents form friendships within our group programs.
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