As we age, our muscles naturally become less efficient. Senior adults can use as much as 20 percent more energy while doing simple tasks, like walking, as a younger adult performing the same task. When movement becomes more difficult, this can have an affect on several other parts of a person’s life. They may start to stay home more. They may stop cleaning, cooking, and even bathing as much as they would if mobility weren’t an issue. Poor diet and hygiene, depression, sickness, and many other health problems can appear simply because it takes more energy to move.
There is good news for seniors who run regularly. One study found that seniors who are runners use less energy when they walk than non-runner seniors use. This study also found that the runners’ muscles looked younger and healthier, more like the muscles of young sedentary adults. While researchers who conducted this study couldn’t pinpoint exactly why running made so much of a difference over any other type of exercise, they hypothesized that the change in muscles had to do with the fact that vigorous activity can help to repair mitochondria, the energy-producing parts of our body’s cells.
It’s true that running isn’t for everyone, and even if you feel healthy and fit enough to do itk, you shouldn’t start a running exercise program without first speaking to your doctor. Running can put you at risk for falls and injuries, so when you run, take proper precautions: wear the right clothes and shoes, avoid running on ground that is not flat and supportive, and run in daylight so you can see the path in front of you. If you aren’t a runner or can’t run for medical or other reasons, you can gain many of the same benefits just from walking as well. Start your exercise routine as early as possible, and you’ll reap the benefits of a healthy, longer, happier life.