Healthy Eating for Seniors

Healthy Vegetables

Eating the right types of food can play an important role in healthy aging. However, proper nutrition can look differently as we age. Some older adults tend to lose muscle mass, making it important to consume higher amounts of protein, while others may find their bodies absorb certain nutrients at a slower rate. Eating what is right for our aging bodies can help us stay energized, maintain a healthy weight, lower the risk of developing chronic illnesses such as diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. In addition, maintaining a healthy diet can also extend your quality of life and promote longevity. The first step to eating right is to learn about the ways age can affect our appetite.

How Aging Affects the Appetite

Medical issues and normal changes that come with aging can interfere with nutrition for older adults. It’s important to be able to recognize and identify these issues in order to address them in a timely manner. According to the National Institutes of Health, here are a few of the most common dietary changes older adults may experience:

  • Taste Disorders. Taste disorders can cause older adults to lose their appetites. As we age, it’s common to lose taste buds, causing food to taste differently than it did before. While it can be tempting to add sugar and salt to enhance the flavor of food, it’s recommended to flavor with herbs and spices instead.
  • Medications. Certain medications can affect how food tastes, which can cause a change in appetite. Medications can also interfere with how our bodies are able to absorb nutrients. If you’re taking a medication, you might consider asking your healthcare provider if there are any changes you need to make to your diet.
  • Oral Health. Problems with your teeth, such as loose fillings, uncomfortable dentures or missing teeth can make eating a painful experience. If you have any discomfort while eating, you might consider speaking with your dentist. Softer foods, such as soups and smoothies, can provide nutrients while also reducing the feeling of pain while eating.

Tips for Cooking for One or Two People

If you are used to cooking for a large family, learning how to prepare enough food just for yourself without wasting can be difficult. However, this doesn’t mean you have to forego cooking healthy meals completely. Instead of settling for frozen dinners or take-out, you might consider the following cooking tips provided by the Mayo Clinic:

Make a plan

You’re less likely to waste food when you plan out all of your meals in advance. Try jotting down meal ideas for the week and preparing a shopping list. This way, you’ll have everything on-hand when you are ready to cook your meal.

Stock your pantry

Having healthy food options on hand will make cooking and preparing food feel much easier. Keeping canned vegetables, beans and fruits stocked in your pantry will make fixing a healthy meal possible at any time. You may consider purchasing whole grain foods such as brown rice, quinoa, barley and pasta to make meals more satisfying.

Take advantage of your freezer

Buying foods in bulk can help keep your grocery costs down. You can always store extra ingredients in the freezer to keep them fresh for longer. You can freeze many foods including bread, meats, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds. Freezing is a great way to prevent food waste. Always make sure to write the date on whatever foods you are freezing.

Prepare one-dish meals

Dishes that serve as a whole meal are great options for those cooking just for themselves or one other person. These dishes usually include items from different food groups such as meats, whole grains, legumes and vegetables. One-dish meals might come in the form of stews, casseroles or chili. While one-dish meals might produce a lot of food, most make excellent freezer meals.

Cook once, but use twice

Plan your meals so that you can freeze extra into individual servings or eat throughout the week. For example, if you roast a chicken for dinner one night, you can use leftovers to make chicken soup or chicken salad and eat that for several meals.

Prioritize convenience

We all have days where we feel under the weather or run out of time to prepare a healthy meal. It’s best to plan ahead for these days! Low sodium canned soups and healthy frozen meals make great options for times like these.

Healthy Recipe Ideas for One

If you’re having trouble finding inspiration for your next meal, look no further. BBC Good Food has compiled a variety of recipes that are specifically designed to feed one person, but can be adapted to feed more. Here’s one to get you started:

Chicken Breast with Avocado Salad


  • 1 skinless chicken breast
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika

For the salad:

  • ½ small avocado, diced
  • 1 tsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 medium tomato, chopped
  • Half small red onion, thinly sliced

Step one:

In a skillet, heat 1 tsp of oil over medium heat. Rub chicken with paprika. Cook chicken on 4-5 minutes each side until cooked through.

Step two:

Mix the salad ingredients together, season and add the rest of the oil. Thickly slice the chicken and serve with salad.

Brain Exercises for Older Adults

Sunrise in the Morning

As we age, our bodies undergo a number of physical changes. Just as our joints and muscles can stiffen up with age, so can our brains. In fact, according to the National Institute of Health, aging causes changes to the brain size, vasculature and cognition. The normal aging process can bring subtle changes in cognitive abilities that can impact our ability to learn something new, recall names, and cause us to occasionally forget appointments. However, we have the ability to slow down the aging process by instilling healthy habits that promote brain stimulation and sharpness.

Supporting a Healthy Brain

Our bodies and brains are interconnected and when we take care of one, we take care of the other. Implementing small, healthy changes into our daily routine can help protect our brains from cognitive decline and help prevent mood disorders such as depression. According to U.S. News, here are a few ways you can support brain health each day:

Exercise. Physical exercise isn’t only good for our bodies, but also for our brains. They work to control our muscles and coordination and help us slow down and speed up. Exercises such as ballroom dancing, yoga and biking require our brains to think about next steps and move sequences.

Stay socially engaged. Human interaction is proven to keep our brains sharp by reducing feelings of stress and promoting the release of endorphins, which are the body’s natural feel-good hormone. Spending time with friends and family members can provide the mental stimulation needed to strengthen our cognitive skills and mental clarity.

Quit smoking. While smoking is bad for you for a number of health reasons, it can also severely impact brain function. Smoking just one cigarette a day for an extended period of time can actually reduce cognitive ability, thinking and memory. When you stop smoking, circulation can improve almost instantly.

Eat a healthy diet. Heart-healthy diets can support brain health, help maintain a healthy weight, and reduce the risk of developing chronic illnesses and cognitive issues. Gut health and cognitive function are closely linked. The more we focus on creating a healthy gut microbiome, the better our brains will be able to function.

Focus on good sleep. Sleep helps our bodies repair from both emotional and physical stress. When we don’t get enough quality sleep, it can disrupt our brain’s ability to perform certain biological changes.

Mental Exercises for Brain Sharpness

In addition to implementing healthy habits into your daily routine, there are other ways you can support brain health. Doing certain brain exercises can help boost your memory, improve concentration and focus. Improving brain health can make daily tasks, like remembering appointments or balancing your check book, feel easier. According to Healthline Magazine, here are a few evidence-based exercises that can help support brain health:

  • Jigsaw puzzles. Research has shown that puzzles require us to use multiple cognitive abilities including spatial awareness and problem-solving. Working on a jigsaw puzzle for just a few minutes a day can improve cognitive thinking and help keep your brain sharp.
  • Cards. Like puzzles, card games also ignite different areas of the brain and help improve memory and thinking skills. Card games such as solitaire, bridge, gin rummy, poker, hearts and crazy eights are entertaining and help support brain health.
  • Dancing. Certain types of dance can actually help increase your brain’s processing speed and memory. Salsa, tap dance, Zumba and ballroom dancing require you to anticipate next movements and remember a sequence of steps, all of which require the brain to work hard, improving cognitive function and memory skills.
  • Listen to music. Research has shown that happy, upbeat music can help generate creativity and brain power. This can help us with problem-solving and make learning new things feel easier.
  • Meditate. Daily meditation can promote calmness and reduce stress and anxiety. However, most people don’t know that meditation can also improve memory and increase our brain’s ability to process new information.
  • Practice tai chi. Regularly practicing tai chi can help reduce stress, enhance sleep quality and even improve our memory. Some studies suggest that long-term tai chi practice can even increase brain volume.

Prioritizing Brain Health at Maple Knoll Village

At Maple Knoll Village, we know how important it is to preserve cognitive function well into our later years. That’s why many of our offerings, from meal options to activities, are designed to support brain health in a number of different ways. To learn more about these offerings or to schedule a tour, please contact us!  

Making Cardio a Part of Your Life

Old Man doing workouts in GYM

As we age, our bodies undergo physical changes that can impact our activity levels and the way we function day-to-day. However, research suggests that physical decline associated with aging is linked to increased inactivity, rather than aging itself. Starting a regular exercise program can help delay and reduce the effects of aging and even reverse some of the decline that’s occurred already. Cardiovascular exercise, while important at any age, is beneficial to older adults looking to start a fitness routine. In fact, cardiovascular exercise can help lower resting heart rate, reduce blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and help lower the risk of heart disease. In addition, cardio can help with weight management, increase lung capacity, help strengthen bones, and decrease stress and anxiety. Implementing cardio into your daily life doesn’t have to be daunting. According to the American Heart Association, just 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week, or 30 minutes for 5 days, can help improve overall cardiovascular health and provide many benefits.

Cardiovascular Exercises for Seniors

The most important element of any exercise routine is that you keep your body moving. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends staying as active as your body allows. This means sitting less and moving more. As you begin to implement cardiovascular exercises into your routine, it’s important to focus on low-impact forms of exercise, and tone down the intensity of your workouts until you build strength and stamina.

Walking is a safe and easy form of cardiovascular exercise that can be done pretty much anywhere. You don’t need to use equipment, however, walking on a treadmill gives you the ability to control difficulty level. Walking on an incline can help build muscle, strengthen the heart, and improve balance. The National Institute on Aging suggests walking in a mall for exercise to avoid environmental factors such as inclement weather and tripping hazards, such as uneven pavement. 

Weight bearing cardio and strength training are both important elements of a cardiovascular exercise routine. Weight-bearing cardio exercises, like playing tennis and dancing, not only strengthen your heart and muscles, but also improve bone health, which is especially important for older adults. Strength training is linked to a decreased risk of disease, longer life expectancy and overall well-being. If you plan to add in strength training exercises to your routine, be sure to seek professional help, especially if you are a beginner. A personal trainer can show you effective exercises and proper form to help prevent injury.

Swimming is a low impact cardiovascular exercise that is great for individuals with joint pain and osteoporosis. Water aerobic exercises is also a safe option that allows you to reap the same benefits of other cardiovascular exercises. Group exercises led by an instructor can help keep you safe, accountable and motivated.

What is Intensity?

Cardiovascular exercises can be adapted to meet anyone’s physical ability, but it’s important to consider the frequency and intensity of an exercise before setting a routine. Aerobic or cardiovascular activities elevate the heart rate and strengthen the heart muscles by improving overall cardiorespiratory fitness. Intensity refers to how hard your body is working during a physical activity. As you get stronger, the intensity of a particular exercise can change.  

To reap the health benefits of cardiovascular exercise, moderate to vigorous-intensity activities are recommended. Examples of moderate activities include water aerobics, tennis, biking, and brisk walking. These activities will increase your heart rate and cause you to breathe harder, but you should still be able to talk. Vigorous exercise will force you to work a little harder. Sweating and heavy breathing will occur, and you might find it more difficult to have a conversation. These activities include hiking uphill, swimming laps, heavy yardwork, and running. If you prefer vigorous exercise, the American Heart Association, recommends just 75 minutes of activity per week. Remember, it’s important to consult your doctor before adding in new exercises to your routine or preforming vigorous physical activities.

How Should I Get Started?

It’s never too late to improve your fitness level but having a plan in place can help you stay on track to achieve your goals. If you’re wondering make cardio a part of your life, here are a few suggestions to help you get started:

Know your limits

Before you start any new fitness routine, it’s important to get cleared by your healthcare provider. Scheduling an annual physical examination before trying any new exercises will help keep you safe and avoid injury. This would be a good time to ask if any medications you’re taking, especially for blood pressure and heart disease, will affect your ability to exercise. Ask your doctor to identify any symptoms to watch out for during exercise, such as chest tightness, irregular heart beat or joint pain.

Create a plan

If you have an exercise plan put into place, you’re more likely to see better results and stay motivated longer. When your motivation goes away, self-discipline is more likely to kick in if you have a set routine. As you create your action plan, identify which exercises you will do, the intensity level, the length of the workout, and the frequency. For example, you might start with 30 minutes of water aerobics for three days a week and 30-minute walks for the other two days. After four weeks or so, you may need to reexamine your fitness routine and change the level of intensity or add in weight-bearing exercises.

Get creative

Exercise is not supposed to a daunting task or something we dread to do each day. In fact, it’s important to look at exercise as a way of honoring of our bodies and all they do for us. While walking and swimming are great cardiovascular exercises, another way to stick to your plan is to do activities you love. Playing in the park with your grandkids, dancing, or even doing simple chair exercises while you watch your favorite TV show are great ways to get in some physical activity while also having fun.

Staying Active at Maple Knoll Communities

At Maple Knoll Communities, we offer a variety of ways to add cardiovascular exercises into your daily routine. Regularly scheduled exercise classes, water aerobics, and our wellness center are available to all residents, as well as personal trainers and coaches. To learn more about our offerings or to schedule a tour, please contact us.  

The Many Benefits of Laughter for Older Adults

Old Man Laughing with his Adults Kids

The use of laughter has been used in the medical space for centuries, but more recently experts have been interested in researching its medical benefits. While laughter can’t cure everything, research suggests that it can strengthen the immune system, boost mood, diminish pain and provide relief from stress. As researchers continue to collect data on laughter’s effect on overall health, current data confirms its many physical, mental, and social benefits.

Physical Benefits of Laughter

When a person laughs, their diaphragm stretches and sends oxygen into the body, stimulating the lungs and respiratory system. This basic act of laughing releases any built-up tension in our muscles and allows our bodies to relax and rest. In addition, genuine laughter can trigger the following physical benefits:

  • Stimulates organs. Laughter enhances your capacity to breathe in oxygen-rich air which stimulates the heart, lungs and muscles, while also increasing the release of endorphins, our body’s natural mood booster.
  • Boosts immunity. When we laugh, we often experience positive thinking and light-heartedness. Positive thoughts can actually help release neuropeptides that help fight stress and other serious illnesses.
  • Lowers stress hormones. Laughter reduces the level of stress hormones in our body and increases antibody producing cells which help combat stress and strengthen the immune system.
  • Decreases pain. Because laughter encourages the chemical release of endorphins, it has the ability to alleviate the symptoms of stress and depression. Endorphins also have the capacity to increase an individual’s ability to ignore and tolerate pain.
  • Prevents heart disease. Laughter improves the function of blood vessels and increases blood flow to the heart which can help prevent heart attacks and other cardiovascular conditions.
  • Improves sleep. Researchers have found that laughing causes the body to produce more melatonin which is the hormone released at the onset of sleep.

Mental Benefits of Laughter

Stress can take a toll on our bodies and our brains. In fact, according to the American Psychological Association, when stress becomes chronic, it can have serious effects on all systems of the body. Here’s how laughter works on stress and provides other mental benefits:

  • Physical release. Stress is usually stored in the body in different ways. You might notice yourself clenching your jaw or raising your shoulders in moments of stress. Laughter counteracts this tension by relaxing the muscles and encouraging both physical and emotional release.
  • Distraction. Laughter allows you to shift your focus from anger, guilt, stress and other negative emotions and focus on positivity and happiness instead.
  • Perspective. Humor can provide a different perspective, especially in times of illness, stress, and anxiety. Laughter can also help us view challenging times as opportunities instead of threats.

Social Benefits of Laughter

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, loneliness and social isolation in older adults are public health concerns. In fact, “social isolation can significantly increase a person’s risk of premature death from all causes, a risk that may rival those of smoking, obesity and physical inactivity.” Laughter can help combat these feelings of loneliness and isolation and help foster meaningful social relationships in the following ways:

  • Strengthens relationships. In addition to relieving physical tension, laughter can also help relieve tension in a relationship, especially during stressful situations. Research suggests that shared laughter between two people is closely correlated with relationship satisfaction.
  • Adds positivity. It can be helpful to use humor to navigate difficult situations, when used appropriately. In fact, some individuals might find that laughter removes emotional barriers and allows for better and more honest conversations.
  • Helps understand yourself and others. Humor gives us the ability to practice compassion and forgiveness and cope with anxiety, fear and grief.

Finding Laughter at Maple Knoll Village

At Maple Knoll Village, we know how important laughter is to overall wellness, that’s why we make it an everyday occurrence. Group activities such as book club, game night, and even exercise classes provide the opportunity to strengthen meaningful relationships and most importantly—have a laugh. To learn more about our offerings or to schedule a tour, please contact us.

Using Diet to Boost our Memory

Fresh produce

According to the Alzheimer’s Society, “nearly 40% of people over the age of 65 experience some form of memory loss, or age-associated memory impairment, which is considered a part of the normal aging process.” Nearly 5 million people worldwide live with dementia, a general term for the impaired ability to remember, think, or make decisions, which can interfere with daily activities. Whether you or a loved one have been diagnosed with a memory disorder, or are experiencing normal age-related memory loss, research shows that making small changes to your diet can help you increase and maintain cognitive health. 

Our bodies are exposed to free radicals that can come from both internal and external sources. Certain factors, like poor diet, long-term stress, and environmental influences such as pollution, can increase the risk of developing free radicals, which can impact our cognitive function. However, nutrients from our diet can help protect our brains from free radicals and heal the damage that occurs as a result. Certain nutrients, such as antioxidants, help protect our bodies from free radicals while also promoting the electric signaling between our nerve cells, which allows our brains to communicate with our bodies. Other nutrients found in our diet, like vitamins B12, B6, and B9 are critical for brain function.

Foods that Boost Memory

While family history and genetics play a role in developing age-related memory loss and memory disorders, we can use our diets to help reduce our risk of disease and promote overall wellness. Here are some foods that contain memory-boosting benefits that can be easily added into our diets:

Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin seeds contain zinc, magnesium, copper and iron, which are all important nutrients for optimal brain health. Zinc plays an important role in nerve signaling, which is crucial for overall cognitive function. Low levels of zinc have been linked to Alzheimer’s disease. Magnesium is important for learning and memory, while low iron levels can lead to brain fog.


Fish, such as salmon, trout, mackerel, herring and sardines, contain omega 3 fatty acids, which is known to promote brain health. Low levels of omega 3 fatty acids have been linked to an increased risk of dementia. In addition to promoting overall cognitive function, omega 3 fatty acids can also help relieve depression symptoms.


Blueberries, along with other deeply colored berries, contain numerous health benefits, especially when it comes to brain health. Blueberries contain antioxidants which help relieve oxidative stress and inflammation, and also reduce the risk of brain aging. Some of the antioxidants found in blueberries are linked to improved communication between brain cells. Antioxidants have also been found to improve or delay short-term memory loss.         


The antioxidants and caffeine contained in coffee can actually help your brain work better. While the caffeine in coffee can help promote sharpened concentration for short periods of time, some studies have suggested that drinking coffee long-term is linked to a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.


Broccoli is packed with antioxidants and vitamin K, which has been shown to improve memory function and reduce inflammation.


While eggs might not come to mind when thinking of brain foods, they do contain some brain-boosting properties. Choline helps regulate mood and memory while vitamins B6, B12, and folate can help relieve the symptoms of depression.

Tips for Improving Brain Health

In addition to making small changes to your diet, adding other lifestyle changes can have a big impact. Quality sleep, proper hydration, exercise, and reducing stress are all factors in brain health and overall wellness.

Benefits of Virtual Reality for Older Adults

VR at Retirement Community

When we think of cutting-edge technology, senior citizens aren’t often the first to come to mind. However, a new technology has captivated both young and elderly audiences. Virtual Reality (VR) is a technology that simulates the experience of being in a different time and place, allowing its user to visualize and feel like they’re in a completely altered environment. Traditionally, technology has been intimidating for the baby boomer generation, 10,000 of which turn 65 each day. Virtual Reality has already entered into the senior living industry, being used within retirement communities to help reduce loneliness, improve medical care and provide adventure and stimulation for seniors.

VR Brings Retirement Community Tours to Life

Some retirement communities are turning to Virtual Reality to show prospective residents what their future homes will look and feel like. Instead of opting for in-person tours during COVID-19, some senior living communities have used VR to give tours of their living spaces to prospective residents and their families. VR tours can also be helpful for seniors who are preparing for a cross-country move and are unable to visit in person. By simulating the environment of a retirement community, VR can help eliminate the fear of change, help establish a memorable experience of the facility, and remove the fear of the unknown.

Improving Medical Care

In addition to using VR as a way to market to prospective residents, this cutting-edge technology is already being used to improve medical care within retirement communities. VR can ease physical pain by providing a distraction during medical procedures that might be uncomfortable or anxiety-inducing. Researchers have also suggested that this technology can be used to improve cognitive health in older adults. In fact, a study from the University of Maryland reported an 8.8 percent improvement in overall accuracy when using VR to learn new information. VR can also help older adults retrain their motor and cognitive skills, allowing them to build new motor and mental skills. In addition, another recent study has suggested that VR can also improve balance and strengthen the neural connectors that support our sensory, motor and cognitive skills.

Some researchers are using VR games to detect a decline in memory and spatial reasoning, both of which are linked to Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Doctors can more easily detect these health issues in VR games, where players have to orient themselves in different setting, when compared to clinical environments. 

Confronting Social Isolation in the Elderly

A new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine suggests that more than one-fourth of adults aged 65 and older have reported feeling socially isolated. In addition, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Older adults are at an increased risk for social isolation and loneliness because they are more likely to face factors such as living alone, the loss of family or friends, chronic illness and hearing loss.” Decline in hearing and low-vision can make interacting with others and enjoying new experiences feel difficult. When left untreated, long-term isolation can increase the risk of depression, anxiety, heart disease, and high blood pressure.

To combat social isolation, Alcove, a lab built by AARP Innovation Labs, has created an interactive and immersive VR environment that allows seniors and their families to explore VR spaces together, bridging the physical distance between family members, especially for those who live long-distance.

As baby boomers continue to enter into retirement, the adoption of Virtual Reality technologies will help bridge the gap in healthcare and ease the demand on care providers. Within the coming years, we can expect to see Virtual Reality become the new norm for the senior care industry.  

Power of Pets for Seniors

Older man with Pet

According to a 2018 AARP survey, nearly one in three Americans suffer from loneliness, a rate which is only expected to rise as more older adults choose to age in place, often living alone. When left untreated, chronic loneliness can lead to inflammation, excess weight gain, depression, and cognitive decline. In fact, loneliness increases the likelihood of mortality at the same rate of smoking 15 cigarettes per day and can increase the risk of developing dementia. To combat this public health concern, many older adults are finding reprieve in the comfort of pets. In addition to pacifying feelings of loneliness and depression-related symptoms, pets can also lower blood pressure and heart rate, reduce the stress hormone cortisol and increase the body’s natural mood booster, serotonin, in their owners.

Animals have a profound effect on the symptoms of depression, isolation and feelings of loneliness. Acting as constant companions, dogs and cats live in the moment and encourage older adults to be present, instead of dwelling on the future, which can be a frightening concept as we age. In addition, animals give their senior owners purpose and responsibility, which can lead to feelings of accomplishment, pride and a sense of security. The simple act of petting an animal releases serotonin, prolactin, and oxytocin all of which play a part in elevating moods.

For many older adults, having a pet provides motivation to move more than they would normally. The greatest health benefit comes to dog-walking owners whose extra activity throughout the day can reduce feelings of anxiety and depression; plus, the extra vitamin D is good for improving mood, bone health and promoting overall wellness. Researchers have also suggested that spending time with a pet can increase appetite and promote nutrition, which comes as benefit for the 30 percent of older adults who struggle with changes in diet and feelings of decreased hunger.

Alternatives to Pet Ownership

Pet ownership might not be a viable option for all senior citizens. However, there are a variety of ways to reap the benefits of having a pet without all of the commitment. One popular option, especially for those living with Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia, is purchasing a robotic pet. Most robotic pets mimic the feel and look of real pets and can ease feelings of loneliness and depression without all of the responsibility.

Pet therapy is also a great alternative, especially for those who live in a residential senior living community. Many hospitals and long-term care communities invite volunteers with therapy animals to conduct regular visits with residents. While these visits are typically short, there is evidence that just 15 minutes of bonding with an animal can increase levels of serotonin, our body’s natural “feel good” hormone.

The cost of adopting and caring for a pet can be a deterrent for some older adults. However, organizations like Pets for the Elderly helps pay animal shelter fees for seniors who adopt a companion dog or cat. In addition, local human societies will often offer senior discounts to make adoption for more accessible for those who need companionship. At Maple Knoll Communities, our Outreach Services program offers low income seniors with access to pet food and other necessities.

While loneliness and depression continue to be a public health concern among older adults, pet ownership can provide benefits that allow seniors to live more joyful and healthy lives. 

Importance of Exercise for Older Adults


As we age, our bodies undergo many different physical changes. Some older adults might experience increased joint pain and decreased flexibility. However, participating in daily exercises can actually improve mobility and decrease the chances of developing a number of physical and mental health conditions. For those who have experienced a loss of physical capability, exercise can be intimidating and knowing where to begin might seem nearly impossible. But, exercise doesn’t have to be that complicated. In fact, the World Health Organization recommends older adults get at least 150 minutes of exercise each week, which comes down to just 20 minutes a day. While exercise might seem daunting, inactivity poses risks that can jeopardize a person’s overall well-being.

Inactivity in Older Adults

While some older adults report loss of strength and stamina as they age, much of it can be contributed to reduced physical activity. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, by the age of 75 one in three men and one in two women engage in no physical activity at all. As we age, our muscle mass begins to decrease, and by the time we reach our forties, we can experience a loss between 3-5%, which increase with each decade. However, engaging in physical activity can decrease the risk of age-related muscle loss. Inactivity, on the other hand, can have lasting negative effects on one’s health and quality of life.

Inactive adults, which includes those who participant in less than ten minutes of moderate or vigorous physical activity a day, are at risk of developing a number of health concerns. Researchers suggest that inactivity that health problems such as cardiovascular disease, prostate cancer, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and dementia are all linked to inactivity in older adults. These diseases increase the risk of premature aging and reduce the chances of staying independent longer. In addition, lack of physical activity can lead to feelings of anxiety, depression, and loneliness. Most of these age-related health concerns can be prevented or managed by consisted physical activity.

Health Benefits of Physical Activity

While older adults are more at risk for some age-related diseases and illnesses, there are ways to prevent them. In fact, according to a journal published in the National Library of Medicine, “improvements in mental health, emotional, psychological, social well-being, and cognitive function are also associated with regular physical activity.” Those who participate in daily exercise are more likely to experience its many health benefits which include:

  • Increased immune function– Strong bodies have been proven to fight off illness and disease more quickly. When we exercise, our bodies become stronger, and are able to recover more easily when we get sick.
  • Improved respiratory and cardiovascular function- Consistent exercise strengthens our cardiovascular system and improves lung function, which can protect us from heart disease and high blood pressure.
  • Reduced risk of falling- According to the National Council on Aging, falls are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries for older adults. While falls can’t be completed prevented, exercises that focus on balance and mobility have proven to lower the risk of falling and help improve the recovery time in the event of a fall-related injury. 
  • Improved quality of life- Older adults are more at risk of loneliness and depression, especially when they live alone. However, consistent exercise has proven to decrease the symptoms of depression and also promote an environment of socialization, especially when one participates in group exercise classes.
  • Ability to stay independent longer- Studies have shown that those who exercise reduce their risk of functional limitation by 30-50%. Those who are able to physically care for themselves are more likely to stay independent for longer periods of time without relying on the help of a caregiver.

Staying Active at Maple Knoll Village

There are a number of fun ways to exercise and stay active each day. Swimming, yoga, weight lifting and resistance training all work to strengthen muscles and keep you healthy. Here are a few ideas to get your started.

Staying active is possible no matter your interest or ability level. Our Hemsworth Wellness Center offers a variety of activities to keep residents both physically and mentally active. Outdoor walks throughout the campus, both at the beginner and advanced levels, are offered daily. Our newly minted Arboretum Path is open to residents and is a perfect opportunity to enjoy a scenic stroll throughout the campus.

Our campus pool is available for free swim and also offers water aerobics classes throughout the week. If you are a resident, make sure to check the resident app for the Wellness Center schedule and for access to guided exercises. If you’re interested in hearing more about our offerings or to schedule a tour, please contact John at 513-782-2715