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In recent years we’ve read lots of reports telling us that sitting has become the new smoking in terms of reducing longevity and negatively impacting health. While most people know that smoking is associated with numerous life-threatening conditions, not as many realize how dangerous a sedentary lifestyle can be when we reach our golden years.

Humans are creatures of habit, and our habits can either help us enjoy a good quality of life as we age or increase our susceptibility to illnesses. A long-term sedentary lifestyle will negatively impact your mental and physical health over time.

Here Are a Few of the Risks of a Sedentary Lifestyle

1. Weight Gain

As we age, our metabolism slows, which makes it easier to gain weight. For this reason, exercise is crucial to maintain a healthy, doctor-recommended weight and body mass index. Weight gain can lead to health risks like diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure.

2. Loss of Functional Movement 

The more you sit, the weaker many of your supporting muscles become. As a result, you may find it more challenging to pick up heavy objects, lift objects over your head, or maintain balance. Loss of functional movement worsens with age and can significantly impact a person’s ability to care for themselves.

3. Increased Risk for Osteoporosis

Our bodies are designed for movement and our bones must regularly bear our weight to stay healthy and strong. A sedentary lifestyle can lead to reduced bone mass density and osteoporosis.

4. Increased Risk of Anxiety, Dementia, or Depression

Movement helps improve our mental health and is a tonic for combatting depression and anxiety.

If this list has you worried, here are some good habits to start incorporating into your daily routine

  1. Skip the elevator and take the stairs.
  2. Get a standing desk or a desk that can move between standing and sitting.
  3. When shopping or going to work, park further away from the entrance.
  4. Walk while talking on the phone.
  5. Allocate a minimum of 15 minutes during the day to exercise.

How a Sedentary Lifestyle Impacts Seniors

A sedentary lifestyle can negatively impact anyone, but seniors’ risks are even more serious. If a family member or loved one is over 65, it’s essential to keep them engaged and moving as a protective factor against the following conditions.

Increased Risk Of Heart Disease

Physical activity lowers cholesterol and high blood pressure. It also helps to combat weight gain while maintaining bone density and muscle mass.

Reduced Mobility

Yoga, Tai Chi, water aerobics, or stretching are great ways seniors can increase physical activity levels and maintain flexibility and joint health.

Reduced Memory Capacity

Physical activity sends oxygen and nutrients to the brain, which helps fight against memory-related issues. In addition, regular physical activity can help ward off dementia or lessen its severity.

Greater Risk Of Developing Depression

Endorphins are released when our body exercises and help us feel good. Even light activity, such as a gentle walk in the park, can make a difference. In addition, exercising with a friend or in a small group can help prevent feelings of isolation by promoting healthy social interactions.

Greater Instability and Risk of Falling

For seniors, the sense of balance decreases every year, increasing the risk of falling. Even a simple stumble and fall inside their home can result in a serious injury for seniors, so taking steps to work on physical activities that can maintain functional movement are vital.

A Reduction in Life Expectancy

A sedentary lifestyle often means a shorter life expectancy as the lack of movement affects a person’s health. Diabetes, high blood pressure or cholesterol, and heart disease place a senior’s life at risk and reduce their time spent with their children and grandchildren. Even walking throughout their home and performing simple household chores can help reduce the damaging effects of inactivity.

It’s Never Too Late to Change!

Seniors looking to add more exercise and activity to their lives can often benefit from having an in-home companion or caregiver.  A professional caregiver can help keep a person motivated and provide assistance. From help with mobility and functional movement exercises to providing transportation to social events or the doctor’s office, professional caregivers help seniors live independently and maintain good physical and mental health. It’s never too late to make a change and become more active!