Just because you’re getting on in years, doesn’t mean you should give up on life and spend the rest of your days sitting on the couch watching daytime TV; on the contrary! Now that you are older, you’ve got so much more time on your hands for experiencing new things, learning new things and keeping yourself at the peak of physical and mental fitness. When we get older, there is a tendency to slow down and live a more sedentary life. There are a number of reasons why this happens. It could be that you have health problems, issues with pain or your weight or because you’re simply worried about falling. However, keeping yourself active is very important the older you become. After all, it helps to boost your energy, provide you with independence, cope with illness or pain, protect your heart and control your weight.
Exercise is good for your mind, body, and soul. If you’ve never been a great lover of exercise, it’s never too late to start. Here are some tips and tricks for keeping in the best of health.
Adapt the Activities You Choose
Many older adults worry that certain fitness activities are not suitable for them, cycling, jogging, tennis, dancing or swimming, for example. There are steps you can take that means you don’t have to rule out any exercise.
- Warm up before exercising: Doing so will help to get your body ready for what is to come. Also include a cool down period after your session to allow your heart rate to return to normal.
- Keep hydrated: Even if you don’t feel particularly thirsty, it’s important to drink lots
- Listen to your body: Exercise at a level that feels right. It should feel like a workout but not be extremely hard.
- Use the right equipment: Wear comfortable shoes, for example. Invest in a helmet if you’re cycling because the right equipment will keep you safe and prevent injuries.
- Be flexible: You may need to change the type of exercise if you start having problems. If you start to develop hip pain symptoms or knee problems, you’ll need to try another form of exercise.
What Type of Exercise is Best for Seniors?
Any kind of exercise is good for you when you are in your senior years. However, there are three types you should aim to focus on:
- Aerobic: This is the kind of exercise that raises your heart rate. It is beneficial for your body and will make everyday activities easier to perform. Aim for 30 minutes of moderate exercise every day.
- Flexibility: These exercises involve stretching and flexing. Yoga or Pilates are two examples. You may also find a local gym that offers stretching exercise programs especially for your age group.
- Strength: Having strong muscles will help you get out of a chair, carry groceries and a number of other daily activities. Aim for 30-minute sessions of strength training twice a week.
What if You Hate the Thought of Exercise?
If the thought of exercise fills you with dread, don’t lose sleep over it because you’re not alone! However, rather than giving in to your fears, see if you can incorporate some of the activities you enjoy into an exercise routine. Here are some ideas you might want to try.
- While lifting weights, pop on some headphones and listen to music or an audiobook.
- Walk laps around the mall and enjoy window shopping at the same time.
- Go for a hike in the countryside and take photographs.
- Join a yoga class or fitness center and make new friends.
- Walk the dog more, or if you don’t own one, offer to walk a neighbor’s or volunteer at a pet shelter.
- Find a friend who will exercise with you.
- Walk around the golf course rather than using a cart.
- If you’re feeling stressed, go for a walk, a run or cycle.
- Chat with friends while walking, stretching or doing strength training.
Before Starting an Exercise Program
If you’ve decided you want to get active, it’s important you take a few precautions. First, speak to your doctor and ask whether there are any activities you should avoid. If you already have health concerns, please bear these in mind. Listen to your body at all times. If exercise is making you feel lousy, then stop and try and find out why. If you’ve not been active for a while, then it’s best to start slow and build up little by little. Always warm up and cool down and remember to keep yourself hydrated.
One last thing to remember is to eat a balanced diet. Good exercise in combination with a healthy diet will have a significant impact on your energy levels, mood, and fitness.