Staying active and exercising as you age.
Staying active and exercising can benefit anyone at any age. However, as you age, staying active becomes even more important. Regular exercise contributes to overall well-being, helps you maintain an independent lifestyle and can impact your health in a big way. Here are just a few ways staying active and exercising can improve your health as an older adult.
- Helps you lose or maintain weight. Staying active and exercising can help you burn calories by increasing metabolism and building muscle mass.
- Reduces the impact of chronic disease or illness. Exercise can improve symptoms and lower the risk for chronic conditions including diabetes, asthma, heart disease, obesity, Alzheimer’s disease and joint pain.
- Enhances your mobility, flexibility and balance. Exercise improves strength and flexibility which can reduce the risk for falls.
- Improves sleep. According to the National Sleep Foundation, regular exercise can improve sleep and curb sleepiness during the day.
- Boosts your mood. Exercise releases endorphins which can help to alleviate stress and reduce the feelings of anxiety, depression and sadness.
- Improves brain health. Staying fit later in life can benefit the brain, boosting memory and thinking skills. Exercise may even help slow the progression of brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease.
Before you can reap the benefits, you have to start moving! Starting and maintaining an exercise routine can be challenging and even overwhelming. Here are a few tips to help you get started safely.
- Talk with your doctor. Schedule an appointment for a physical exam and discuss your current medical conditions. This is a good time to ask what activities to avoid or add to your routine.
- Start slow and don’t get discouraged. Slow and steady wins the race! Take time to build-up your exercise routine and don’t get discouraged if you have to break it up into increments. This is the best way to prevent injury.
- Create a schedule. Commit to a schedule for several weeks. Eventually it will become a healthy habit.
- Stay motivated. Do what works for you. Invite a friend to join you or set small and easily attainable goals to keep you focused.
- Pay attention and stay alert. Stop exercising if you feel dizzy, short of breath, experience red or swollen joints or have chest pain. Listen to your body and make adjustments to your routine.
The key to staying active is to find activities that you enjoy. Try mixing it up to keep things interesting. Here are a few suggestions:
- Take a walk. All you need is a comfortable pair of walking shoes and a safe place to walk.
- Take a class. Take a fitness class to stay fit, have fun and meet friends. Improve your balance, strength and flexibility with Yoga and Tai Chi.
- Take a dip. Work out in the water to reduce the stress and strain on your joints.
The bottom line — staying active and exercising regularly is the best thing you can do for yourself as you age. It’s never too late to start. The challenge is tailoring your program to best fit you. Start today to live a longer and healthier life!