As we get older, we’re often much less interested in physical activity. Unfortunately, late adulthood is when we should be the most focussed on incorporating exercise into our daily lives. Not only is it vital for keeping you body healthy, exercise also helps keep our minds sharp.
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Before starting any exercise regimen, be sure to meet with your doctor. Your doctor should clear any physical activity to ensure that your bones, joints, and heart are healthy enough for regular exercise. While exercise improves your health, if done incorrectly, it could be harmful. Always discuss your exercise goals and routine with your doctor first.
Aerobic activity has proven to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels as well as improving heart health, maintaining joint movement, and increasing energy levels. If you haven’t participated in aerobic exercise in a long time, such as running, swimming, or brisk walking, be patient. It will take time to build up your endurance.
Start with short 5 to 10 minute sessions a few days a week. In time you’ll want to work your way up to 30 minutes of aerobic exercise a few times a week.
As we age, we’re much more likely to lose our muscle mass. This can make everyday tasks, such as going up the stairs or carrying groceries into the house, much harder. To maintain your muscle mass, you’ll need to also focus on strength training. Your routine should include important muscle groups such as:
You can use light 2-pound dumbbells to put your muscles to the test. Exercise such as bicep curls and chest presses can be useful. If you don’t have weights, using your body as resistance is just as impactful. Squats, lunges, and modified push ups are all useful in maintaining, if not building, muscle mass.
While you don’t need to be able to walk on a balance beam or hop around on one leg, you’ll want to improve your balance as much as possible. According to the CDC, each year about 2.8 older Americans are treated for injuries caused by a fall. Even a small injury from a fall can cause serious health risks.
To minimize the risk of falling, take time to improve your balance and flexibility. One of the best exercises to achieve this goal is yoga. You can also use a chair to improve your balance. Simply stand behind it, rest one hand on the chair, and bend one of your legs. Stand on one leg for 10 seconds, and then switch.
Getting up in years turns some of the easiest tasks into challenges. Do you find it hard to get dressed in the morning? What about getting out of bed or reaching an object on a kitchen shelf? Odds are your muscles and joints feel tight. By adding stretching to your daily routine, you can feel more limber and improve your range of motion. Be sure to stretch your back, neck, legs, and arms, especially before exercising. Warming up your body minimizes the risk of inadvertent injury.
Exercise doesn’t have to be boring. To keep you excited and on track with your exercise goals, find ways to make it fun. For your aerobic exercise, try hiking or a spin class for a low impact workout. Other tips for more exciting exercise include:
The more fun you can have with exercise, it will start to feel like much less of a chore.
While you may be one of those overachiever types, as we age, it’s important to know our limits. In the day you may have been able to run for miles and miles, but these days, you’ve got much simpler goals in mind. When it comes to exercise, know when you’ve had enough. If you’re in pain, aching, having trouble breathing, or experiencing any type of discomfort, stop exercising immediately. Pushing yourself too far too fast can have serious health implications. Listen to your body and take a day off when you need time to relax and regroup.
Exercising isn’t the most luxurious part of your golden years, but staying physically active will improve your health both physically and mentally. Keep these 7 exercise tips in mind to ensure you stick to a safe and effective exercise routine.
How do you stay active? Found any new hobbies that helped you commit to exercising? Share your story in the comments.