Seniors have a harder time than any other age group when it comes to staying active. Not only do seniors face more health problems and mobility issues than other people, but the opportunities to to get exercise that’s built into your schedule diminish as you age. Regular church attendance (and the many auxiliary benefits that come along with it) is a sure-fire way for seniors to get the exercise they need to boost their physical and mental wellbeing.
According to the National Institutes of Health, here are some of the ways that science has shown exercise to be beneficial to seniors: “helps prevent or delay many diseases and disabilities; a treatment for many chronic conditions [including] arthritis, heart disease, or diabetes high blood pressure, balance problems, and difficulty walking; helps manage stress and improve your mood; reduces feelings of depression; and improves or maintains some aspects of cognitive function.”
Sounds pretty good, right?
Church as obligatory physical activity
The good thing about church is that it forces seniors to get up and get mobile multiple times a week. Between worship services, church outings, and community functions, seniors have set times throughout the week where they must get out of the house and move around.
Church congregations are also the genesis of many other physical activities. Churches may have bowling leagues, gardening clubs, walking clubs, and other sorts of sporting activities. Churches often schedule sightseeing trips for their members.
Another great thing about planning a day or two of the week around church activities is that it’s a catalyst for more physical activity. Once you’re already up and out on a Sunday or Wednesday evening, you’re more likely to participate in other exercise like walking.
Church as easy socialization
When you go to church on a regular basis, you make dozens and dozens of friends seemingly automatically. These friends can help to motivate you in your physical activity by holding you accountable. It’s also easier to exercise with partners, and church friends can provide this support.
Socialization in general is vital to living a long and healthy life. Being social improves brain function, helps to fight off depression, and can stave off the effects of cognitive decline. A healthy brain contributes to a healthy body.
The structure of church can also spill into other parts of your life, making it easier to be disciplined in your physical activity.
“Going to a place of worship gives you a strong sense of community and people that go to church are usually disciplined by the ways of christianity. This also teaches you to have a more disciplined attitude throughout life. Being disciplined can also help you make good life choices.” notes HealthFitnessRevolution.com.
Church as an alternative to bad habits
Nothing makes it harder to maintain physical health than a substance abuse problem. Unfortunately, drug and alcohol abuse can be an even greater problem for seniors than it is for younger adults. Friends and family move away, spouses die, and seniors can feel lonely and depressed. This is a recipe for substance abuse.
“The fact is, although alcohol and drug abuse is harmful at any age, it is never more harmful than on the elderly. The impact of alcohol- and drug-related injuries is much more severe, the risk of harmful medication interactions is much greater, and the general physical effects of alcohol and drugs are more debilitating,” says the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence.
Church provides not only a positive outlet for seniors, but a built-in support group of individuals who will help to keep their friends in check. The activity the church provides is vital for anyone on a recovery path.
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