It’s no secret; exercise gives you a multitude of benefits. It’s good for the body, mind and soul. But what you may not know is that a LACK of exercise poses some major health risks, particularly for seniors. That’s why senior living communities have made exercise a central part of daily life for their residents. Here’s how they’re doing it and why it’s so important.

The Stats on Sedentary Seniors

A recent study found that 67 percent of seniors are sedentary for at least 8.5 hours a day. Sedentary means having little to no physical activity and/or primarily participating in activities where you sit or lie down such as reading or watching TV.

Dubbed “the sitting disease,” a sedentary lifestyle puts seniors more at risk for conditions such as high blood pressure, stroke, cardiovascular disease, some cancers, Type 2 diabetes and even cognitive decline. Beyond that, bone loss may progress faster, you’re more at risk for falls and may have more trouble performing daily activities due to loss of muscle tissue. In addition to the physical risks, you’re also more at risk of depression.

The good news is that even if you’ve never been one to exercise, the benefits are seen not only in those who maintain an existing level of physical activity, but also in those who begin exercising between ages 70 and 85. So, it’s never too late to get started!

How to Step Up

Seniors should do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity throughout the week in sessions of at least 10 minutes duration. This can include walking fast, water aerobics, bike riding, even pushing a lawn mower — anything that can raise your heart rate.

You should also work on balance strengthening activities such as yoga three or more days a week, and muscle-strengthening activities such as weight training two or more days a week.

And even if health conditions or disability limit the type of exercise you can do, simply reducing the amount of time sitting during the day can help.

The Movement in Senior Living Communities

If all this sounds hard to keep track of, or perhaps even harder to get to a gym or exercise class regularly, there is an easier way. Today’s senior living communities are focused on healthy aging, of which daily exercise is a big part. Beyond the typical games and social activities, although those are important too, they’re moving toward an overall wellness approach.

For example, Sonata’s Live It Up! program nurtures the seven dimensions of wellness as identified by the International Council on Active Aging: emotional, intellectual, physical, vocational, social, spiritual and environmental.

In our senior living communities you’ll find amenities such as a fitness center, pool, game room, art studio and even a dog park. In addition, you’ll have a full monthly calendar with clubs, outings, a range of exercise classes and your pick of cultural, educational and volunteer opportunities. Plus, licensed nurses, supplemental care and personalized services support you in staying active and vital. And it’s all right outside your door!

For more information on how Sonata’s senior living communities incorporate exercise into daily life and our proprietary Live it Up! program, call a community near you today to schedule a visit →

Sources: International Journal of Environmental and Public Health , Hebrew University Medical Center, World Health Organization

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