Staying active as we age carries with it both physical and mental benefits:
Significant reduction in risk for type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and certain cancers
Fewer falls and injuries
The ability to live independently for a longer period of time
More positive and improved moods
Feeling better about ourselves
improved cognitive abilities such as thinking, learning, and making decisions
What Kinds of exercise?
Being older does not mean you cannot be active. It can, however, mean that different exercises are more suited for you than others. Before committing to any physical routine be sure to visit with your doctor in order to discuss the affects of surgeries, or health conditions that may limit certain activities. With that said, choose physical activities that you will enjoy and stick with. It is also recommended to incorporate different forms of exercise which vary between endurance, strength, flexibility, and balance. Here are some ideas:
Endurance activities increase your heart rate and breathing. These types of activities improve health, fitness, and help to maintain your ability to do everyday tasks as you age. Along with strengthening your heart, lungs, and circulatory system, they have been linked to the prevention of diabetes, heart disease, and osteoporosis.
Examples of Endurance activities are:
Sports such as Golf and Tennis.
Indoor Activities. These are many and include joining a Fitness Center or Gym, Bowling, Swimming laps, Dancing, and Martial Arts.
Outdoor Activities which can include Biking, Running, Snorkeling, and Horseback Riding.
Around the House activities are not always seen as exercise, but they can really get things pumping! Keep up with chores such as Heavy Housework, Gardening, Raking, and Sweeping.
Walking! Any kind of walking you can think of...on the beach, around the block with the dog, through the mall, or a nature hike. Walking is one of the most beneficial exercises out there. So walk...walk... and walk some more!
Strengthening your muscles requires you to lift or push weight. We're not talking bulging muscles and and lifting dumbbells the size of Pintos...but the use of small weights, water bottles, household items, and even your own body weight during exercise significantly increases strength.
This means you will be able to continue to do everyday activities as you age, such as:
and getting up from your chair.
Additionally, strengthening the lower body helps to improve and maintain balance
Here are some illustrations from the National Institute on Aging demonstrating different strengthening exercises:
From the top
Front arm raise
Arm curl with resistance band
Side arm raise
Seated row with resistance band
Overhead arm raise
From the top
Side leg raise
Back leg raise
Flexibility is achieved through stretching exercises which result in:
Increased joint movement
Relief from sore muscles and tension
Improved balance and coordination
And a decrease in the risk of injury
Some excellent exercise can be found on the American Grandparents Association website. Just remember, if it hurts....stop! Stretching should feel good.
Tai Chi is also an excellent activity to improve both flexibility and balance.
Balance exercises helps us to do all those everyday activities, as well as preventing falls. There are many exercises that you can do in the home found on the National Institute on Aging website. However, one of the most beneficial activities to improve balance is Tai Chi, translated as "moving meditation" and practiced by individuals of all ages. Research has shown that Tai Chi can significantly reduce the risk of falls among older people, as well as
Improve bone and heart health
Ease the pain and stiffness associated with osteoarthritis
Help you get a better night's sleep
And improve overall wellness
If you pick activities that you enjoy, you will be more likely to do them regularly and get the most out of your efforts. So have fun and keep moving!