The Effects of Exercise on Depression in Seniors

Whether caused by social isolation due to retirement, worries concerning medical issues, or daily life stress-inducing struggles, depression, anxiety, and stress are shared among the elderly. Undeniably, these symptoms affect seniors differently than youngsters. If you feel depressed, you may think you are reaching the bottom, while dealing with the seemingly meaningless life might exhaust you. In addition to the existential crisis that emerged from depression and anxiety, they also can put you at the risk of severe medical conditions such as a heart attack or a stroke. Undoubtedly, the effects of exercise on depression in seniors are of vital importance in such cases.

Clearly, getting help from a professional and talking to a therapist is a must, yet some other actions can certainly help you overcome such conditions. Physical activities are vital in your general well-being. Undoubtedly, working out assists you to cope with negative feelings more easily. It also can prevent you from various physical health problems that appear by aging, like falling, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Furthermore, exercising also can help you maintain your independence in your daily routine and, more importantly, make your muscles stronger.

Physical activities cause the release of some necessary chemicals that directly affect your mood and mental health. This, however, does not mean that you need to do heavy exercises, but you should bear in mind that any regular physical activity is way more beneficial than none at all. Here is the list of activities you can involve in to boost your physical and mental health. Remember that you should always warm-up before and cool down after each exercise and training.

What are the effects of aerobic exercises on depression in seniors?

 Aerobic exercises, also known as “cardio,” make your heart pump oxygenated blood to your body parts. As result, they stimulate your heart and breathing rate. The oxygen helps muscles with burning fuel and move. The distribution of oxygen can positively affect depression, stress, and anxiety in seniors. Moreover, cardio exercises boost memory for the elderly.

Benefits of Aerobic Exercises on depression in seniors:

  • Reduced depression and anxiety caused by an increase in blood circulation to the brain
  • Decreased stress and fear
  • Improved self-esteem and self-efficacy
  • Less risk of heart diseases and strokes
  • Decreased high blood pressure
  • Help with metabolic syndrome 
  • Controlled blood sugar
  • Help with weight management
  • Enhanced lung function

Some easy aerobic exercises are listed below:

  • Walking/ Hiking 
  • Jogging/ Running
  • Dancing
  • Rowing
  • Cycling
  • Swimming 
Swimming helps depression and stress in seniors

So if you are not in the mood for strenuous activity, just taking a walk or dancing would suffice and bring you benefits you did not think. Aerobic exercises can change your mood rapidly while distracting you from negative thoughts during working out and consequently bring joy to your life by boosting your self-esteem. Besides,they are also great opportunities for you to socialize with others on the same boat as you are and consequently feel less lonely as you have new people in your life to talk to and share your concerns.

What are the effects of muscle exercises in seniors?

Muscle-strengthening activities make muscles work harder than what they are used to it. Evidently, they overload muscles. So obviously, they have benefits that aerobic exercises do not feature. These resistance exercises have great effects on depression and stress in seniors as well as anxiety. They act on neurobiological systems, specifically neurotransmitters and neurotrophic and growth factors. Intensity, frequency, and repetitions play significant roles in such activities. Therefore, you are better off with professional trainers to avoid any harm if you tend to pursue heavy muscle-strengthening activities. On the other hand, some easy activities that can minimize the risk of injury. The effects of exercise on depression in seniors using these activities are excellent. Some of them are named later on in the article.

Benefits of Muscle-strengthening activities on depression in seniors:

  • Improved self-confidence and self-image 
  • Higher bone strength and muscular fitness
  • Enhanced the overall ability to do daily activities such as lifting boxes 
  • Decreased risk of harm and injury
  • Help with maintaining healthy body weight

Some muscle-strengthening activities for seniors are listed below:

  • Toe stands
  • Yoga
  • Tai Chi
  • Weight lifting
  • Pilates
  • Squats
  • Exercising with resistance bands
  • Push-ups and sit-ups
  • Wall push-ups
  • Serious gardening like digging and shoveling
  • Carrying or moving heavy shopping bags
Pilates and weightlifting help seniors with depression and stress

Muscle-strengthening activities are excellent exercises that benefit you much if you do them correctly and cautiously, making you feel better about yourself as you witness your power and health improvement. Moreover, doing yoga and Tai chi also helps you relieve stress, calm your mind, help you have better sleep, and put you at peace with yourself and the world around you.

What are the effects of balance exercises on depression in seniors?

The importance of balance should never be taken for granted. Balance activities are relatively critical once you are at the risk of falling or have difficulty in walking. Subsequently, low balance can be highly problematic. Somewhat keeping a healthy balance can increasingly affect your self-confidence, as well as move away from depression.

Effects of balance exercises on depression in seniors:

  • Increased self-confidence due to faster reaction time
  • Better coordination helping with preventing falls
  • Improved brain function helping you with avoiding dangerous situations
  • Help with building better posture 
  • Increased overall muscular power

Here is the list of some balance activities:

  • Pilates
  • Rock the Boat
  • Weight Shift
  • Tightrope Walk
  • Flamingo Stand
  • Tree Pose
  • Heel-to-Toe Walk
  • Back Leg Raises
  • Side Leg Raise
  • Clock Reach
  • Balancing Wand
Depression and stress in seniors can be improved by balance exercises

When done regularly, these exercises can enhance your body posture day by day, and as you gain better control and perform efficient reactions, your body will be at more peace. Consequently, you will feel calm and be able to cope more effectively with stress-inducing conditions, all of which leading you to feel better about yourself and build up an enhanced self-confidence and self-assurance.

Anxiety, stress, and depression can be too hard to handle, especially once you suffer from physical pain or are tired of staying lonely at home. Hence, physical activity is always a great help in changing your mood, distracting you from your issues, as well as maintaining your overall well-being. Exercise releases chemicals such as endorphins and serotonin, which are critical factors in changing your mood. It can help you go out in the world, start connecting with others, and feel less lonely or isolated. Finally, you can witness the effects of exercise on depression in seniors by releasing stress and calming anxiety. Thus if you feel down or stressed, it is time to give the physical activity a try.

‏Disclaimer: ‏Please read it carefully

Source NHS Health Line
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