As we age, exercise is essential to our physical and mental health. This may be especially important for older adults, as physical activity has been linked to greater emotional stability, better focus and memory recovery, better cardiovascular health, and even a lower risk of chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes. .
But getting those physical and mental health benefits doesn’t have to mean just sweating it out on the treadmill at home; A new study has indicated that participating in group exercise programs designed with older people in mind can help strengthen both body and mind.
In 2005, the University of Missouri launched its “Stay Strong, Stay Healthy” program. Stephen Ball, who has dedicated his career to improving the health of older Missourians through exercise, played an important role in the University’s new program. For years, he’s talked about the physical and mental health benefits older adults have experienced from fitness programs, but thanks to this new study, he now has proof.
For the study, Ball collaborated with the Missouri Orthopedic Institute to analyze the effectiveness of the “Stay Strong, Stay Healthy” strength-training program in a group setting among adults age 60 and older. All study participants were required to attend an instructor-led training. course that lasted one hour and took place twice a week for eight weeks. The course taught participants how to safely complete strength training exercises, including biceps curls and squats.
After accounting for muscle strength, balance, and flexibility before and after the program, the researchers found that participants improved their physical health outcomes and self-confidence while exercising. This increased their physical activity in their daily lives and reduced the risk of falls, which is a major concern for older adults.
We help older adults maintain their independence as they age and reduce the risk of falls, which has huge health and financial implications,” Ball said. “We continue to hear from participants that in addition to feeling stronger, healthier and more active, another important reason they enjoy group classes is the social aspect of making friends with other people their age and connecting with members of the community. in a stress-free environment.
This study helps show the importance of physical activity in older adults and how the social impact of group classes is vital. Social connection is an essential part of senior health, and group exercise classes offer a great way to interact with others while being physically active.
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