Older individuals are at greater risk of leading an inactive lifestyle. If physical activity is not part of your daily routine, not only are you missing out on essential health benefits, but you’re endangering your health.
A sedentary lifestyle is not healthy, especially for seniors, as it poses far more health issues. Some seniors may want to be active, but if they live independently without assistance, that can be challenging. It’s important to understand the health risks of being sedentary for too much of the day.
Below we’ll discuss five common health issues that inactive seniors face. You’ll find tips on how to help your loved one stay active, as well as share how an active senior living community like Wesley can help prevent a sedentary lifestyle.
#1: Rapid Bone Loss
Everyone loses bone density as they age. However, seniors are at a greater risk of experiencing bone loss. A sedentary lifestyle increases that risk at a more rapid pace. Loss of bone mass increases the likelihood of broken bones and bone-related health issues such as osteoporosis. Maintaining an active lifestyle will improve overall strength, help bones stay strong and healthy, and slow that bone-loss process down. Reducing the risk of broken bones and other health issues can prevent future disabilities.
#2: High Risk of Depression
For seniors over the age of 65 and sit for long periods are at a greater risk of depression and anxiety. This risk increases for any seniors who are prone to depression or experiencing memory issues. Seniors need to maintain or improve their mental health. Physical activity has been proven to lift moods, and these mood-lifting effects are the same for anyone at any age. When older individuals stay active daily, they are much less likely to suffer from depression and anxiety. An active lifestyle can also boost cognitive function and slow down memory loss.
#3: Loss of Muscle Mass
If the body doesn’t stay physically active, it will lose muscle mass. Lean muscle tissue is necessary to perform most activities. When you lose too much, it’s not easy to perform basic self-care tasks like dressing or bathing. Activities of daily living, or ADLs, include self-care tasks, preparing meals, eating, cleaning, etc. If your or your loved one wants to age in place with little to no assistance, they must remain active and prevent the loss of lean muscle.
#4: Greater Risk of Diabetes
Too much time spent sitting can increase your risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes. What’s worse is that even if you are exercising regularly, prolonged sitting periods still increases your risk of diabetes. (2)
You can prevent diabetes by doing the following:
- Exercise daily for at least 30 minutes.
- Stop smoking if you haven’t already.
- Eating a healthy diet.
- Get to a healthy weight and maintain it.
- Drink alcohol in moderation.
- Cut back on your “sitting” time!
#5: Greater Risk of Heart Disease
A study was conducted about the dangers of sitting and involved 800,000 people. They discovered that prolonged sitting dramatically increased their risk of heart disease. This study showed that people who sit the most, when compared to those who sat the least, had an increase in heart diseases, specifically a 147 percent increase in cardiovascular events, like heart attacks and strokes, and a 90 percent increase in death from cardiovascular events. (1)
When you spend too much time sitting, blood flow slows down, allowing fatty acids to build up in the blood vessels. When this happens, it can lead to heart disease. Regular physical activity can help reduce your risk of heart disease by helping you manage blood pressure and cholesterol. (1)
How to Prevent a Sedentary Lifestyle for Your Senior
Family and friends play a vital role in preventing a sedentary lifestyle. Consider doing the following to help increase your loved ones physical activity:
- Keep them busy around the house or yard with cleaning or other household chores and gardening.
- If they have a dog, encourage them to maintain a regular walking schedule for themselves and their pet.
- Find physical activities they can do while watching TV like lifting hand weights, stretching, riding an exercise bike, or walking a treadmill.
- Plan regular outings with them like shopping, visiting a park, or walking a beach.
- Suggest hobbies or activities that may be of interest, such as golf, dancing, tennis, swimming, or finding community activities.
- If they live in assisted living, be sure to visit your loved one regularly, get them walking and moving around, and encourage them to stay socially active within the community.
At Wesley, we understand the importance of an active lifestyle for seniors. Our community is dedicated to providing various activities and social events to keep you or your loved ones physically active. For example, our senior living apartments are perfect for independent seniors who enjoy an active lifestyle. We provide seniors with the freedom to live the life they love and engage in the activities they enjoy. In addition to maintenance-free living and supportive care services, our Saratoga campus provides residents with a variety of activities and amenities, including a hair salon, gift shop, restaurant and a café.
The Wesley Community has provided services and programs with a commitment to compassion, caring, and excellence for nearly 50 years. We began as an innovative combination of independent housing for older adults and skilled nursing care on a single site and have grown to today’s multiplex of services that enhance hundreds of lives daily.
Feel free to contact us to learn more about our senior living community in Saratoga Springs. Visit our website, complete this form online, or call (518) 587-3600 for information about our home care, skilled nursing & memory care, assisted living, independent living, or anything else you may need assistance with. We look forward to helping you!
1. How Sitting Too Much Can Lead to Heart Disease;. Beaumont.org. https://www.beaumont.org/health-wellness/blogs/how-sitting-too-much-can-lead-to-heart-disease. 2018, 31 Aug.
2. Illiades, C. Don’t Just Sit There: Sedentary Lifestyle Increases Type 2 Diabetes Risk". Everyday Health. https://www.everydayhealth.com/type-2-diabetes/living-with/sedentary-lifestyle-increases-type-2-diabetes-risk/.