Exercise is an important part of everyday health. This is true for older adults, too. Experts say seniors should aim to be as active as possible since exercise can help seniors live a longer, healthier life.
There are many benefits of exercising when you’re a senior, including known facts that:
- It improves strength – this helps you stay independent
- It improves balance – this prevents falls
- It can give you more energy
- It prevents or delays diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes, or osteoporosis
- It can improve your mood and fight off depression
- It may improve cognitive function (how your brain works)
Before starting an exercise routine, you need to speak to your doctor for advice and guidance. Your doctor will be able to tell you if it is safe to begin certain routines. Patients with heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and arthritis can see improvement with exercise hence the importance of collaborating with your medical team.
Once you receive your doctor’s approval you can begin trying out different exercises that work for you and your loved ones. There are 4 types of exercise, it is ideal to include at least one from each type.
Endurance — increases your breathing and heart rate. Improves the health of your heart, lungs, and circulatory system. Builds energy.
- climbing stairs/hills
- raking, mowing
Strength — makes your muscles stronger. Seniors may need assistance with some of these exercises
- Lifting weights.
- Using a resistance band.
- Doing body-weight exercises (push-ups, sit-ups).
Balance — helps prevent falls.
- Standing on one foot.
- Walking heel-to-toe.
- Tai chi or yoga.
Flexibility — stretches your muscles, keeps you limber and more easily able to move.
One way to incorporate more exercise into your life is to add physical activity into your daily routine. You can ask your loved ones to participate with you to make it more fun! Examples of working more activity into your day include:
- Taking the stairs instead of the elevator.
- Parking farther away from your destination.
- Walking or biking around your neighborhood.
- Walking your dog.
- Working in the yard.
- Doing chair exercises while watching TV.
Again, check with your doctor if you’re over 50 and aren’t used to exercising before starting an exercise routine. Other reasons to check with your doctor before starting an exercise program include:
- Dizziness or shortness of breath.
- Chest pain or pressure.
- Blood clots.
- An infection.
- Sores that won’t heal.
- Any joint swelling.
- Recent surgery.
- A hernia.
Wear loose, comfortable clothing and well-fitting, sturdy shoes. If you are not already active, begin slowly. Start with exercises that you are already comfortable doing. Starting slowly makes it less likely that you will injure yourself. Starting slowly also helps prevent soreness.
Adding exercise and physical activity into your daily routine is a great way to maintain your health and get outdoors as the weather gets nicer. Start slow and simple and you will see how beneficial activity can be.