Aging effects not only our physical appearance, which can be a major concern for some people, but more importantly, there can be invisible changes in our mental and emotional health.
For example, degenerative diseases that limit mobility and coordination can result in being isolated from family and friends, which can cause stress and loneliness. These seniors are a vulnerable group, and it’s a major concern as to what can be done to improve their emotional health. One way to do this is with exercise. Exercise is a great prescription for improving mental health and has been shown to improve mental health conditions in seniors.
There is a range of very beneficial exercise types, such as aerobic, resistance training, and stretching exercises.
Benefits of Exercise to Improve Emotional health
Here are just a few of the benefits that exercise can do for your emotional health.
Keeps you independent.
Exercise boosts emotional wellbeing. If you can remain independent and perform your daily tasks, this will keep your self-esteem and self-confidence more intact. If you can’t perform simple tasks, it can make you feel hopeless and dependent.
Being elderly and being able to ‘do your own thing’ can give you a great sense of satisfaction, knowing you are still in control of your life and are still able to manage your daily affairs.
Having independence enhances the quality of your life. You can make your own choices or decisions. You can make simple decisions such as what to eat, what to wear and where to go. People who can’t make these simple decisions have a harder time emotionally as they battle with their own sense of purpose and quality of life.
Increases social interaction.
Joining groups, whether it be fitness groups or hobby groups, can widen your social interactions. You meet new friends who share the same passion and interests. You get the feeling of belonging from your support group, which contributes to your happiness and contentment.
Within your family circle, you will have greater energy and stamina to play with your grandchildren, and to laugh at their antics. Laughter alone has many health benefits, so don’t underestimate the benefits of a good old belly laugh!
If you a person who laughs often, here’s how you benefit:
- Lowers your blood pressure and reduces the risk of stroke.
- Produces ‘happy hormones’ to relieve stress.
- Increases immune cells and antibodies, so you develop disease resistance.
- Gives your heart a cardio workout.
- Exercises your stomach muscles because they expand and contract when you laugh. (Have you ever held your stomach after laughing so hard because your stomach muscles hurt? Know that it’s good for you!)
- Promotes your general wellbeing, both physically and emotionally.
When you exercise, you feel happy and exude a more happy, positive disposition. You sleep better at night and feel good about life. You have the energy to do the things that you love, and you have a sharp mind. You feel younger than your chronological age.
What’s Stopping You from Exercising?
You might think you’re not well enough to exercise. It has been proven that exercise also improves the symptoms of degenerative diseases. There’s nothing to lose but a lot to gain. You only need to develop a positive mindset about performing physical activities.
If you have a health condition, consult the professionals that can help you, such as physiatrists or physical therapists. Physiatrists are specialists who treat conditions of the nerves, muscles, and bones that affect movement. Physical therapists can help if you have health problems or injuries in your muscles, bones, or nerves.
It is harder to be happy and uplifted when in pain, or when mobility is limited due to inactivity. There’s far less reason to be sad or temperamental if you feel good about yourself and life in general. When you’re active, you have much less time to linger on disruptive thoughts of ‘what-if’ and ‘maybes.’ Your physical activities help you to be mindful and keep your thoughts away from those that contribute to stress or anxiety.
Choose an exercise that you love to do. Do you love to sing? That’s still an exercise! Singing makes your diaphragm strong and improves general circulation. It produces a feeling of elation and pleasure from the release of endorphins. Singing also releases oxytocin, a hormone that alleviates stress and anxiety.