Physical fitness is important for good health at just about any age, but what about the emotional benefits of physical fitness? Many know that functional fitness programs improve endurance, strength, flexibility, and balance. Regular exercise has many cardiac benefits as well, including lowering blood pressure and heart rate, and it can also improve circulation. The National Institute on Aging points out that, besides these more obvious physical benefits, there are also many emotional benefits to staying functionally fit. Here are four that stand out.
While you don’t have to work out with an exercise buddy or in a group class, most physical activities will involve some social interaction — even if it’s just saying “hello” as you pass someone on the same walking path. Social interactions, even if brief, may boost the immune system and your mood. Both of them contribute to an overall sense of well-being and happiness.
Exercising your body may also support mental health. It can help you to maintain focus when you need to pay attention to routine tasks like paying bills, booking reservations, or planning a dinner party. Being able to readily and comfortably switch between tasks — like answering a call from the doctor’s office right in the middle of planning that party — is also a benefit of keeping physically active. Staying mentally sharp is even more important as we age and is a contributing factor to one’s overall level of engagement.
By staying in physical and mental shape, you can increase your self-confidence. Knowing that you’re able to manage day-to-day activities like driving, shopping, or cooking is an important factor in maintaining a positive attitude. That, in turn, tends to increase your overall level of happiness and sense of purpose in life. In particular, it’s another factor that contributes to improved health for seniors, according to a Concordia University study.
By staying fit and maintaining confidence in your ability to manage daily tasks, you’re able to rely on your own independence. Feelings of strength and independence are major factors in maintaining a high quality of life for seniors. They ensure that you have control over your own life situation, even as changes may arise. All of these help increase self-esteem and self-confidence, creating a positive cycle of reinforcement.