Aging brings many challenges, but one of them seems to be a common one for people of any age: exercise. Oh dear—just the thought of exercise can make you feel fatigued sometimes. Isn’t exercise one of the things you’re getting too old for? The truth is, no! You are never too old to start exercising! People of all ages can reap the benefits of regular exercise. Included in this article are some tips to get you started.
First of all, get clearance from your doctor before beginning any exercise program; he or she will help you understand how to safely meet your fitness goals. Once you’ve gotten the all clear, commit to a regular exercise schedule and start slow. Remember–even moving slowly is moving in the right direction.
In order to help yourself get started on the right foot, you can do a few things; first, find a buddy. If your spouse or a friend will exercise along with you, it will help you to stay motivated and enjoy your exercise time more. Second, use your resources. There are a myriad of resources available online and through your community to help you, and ask your friends what kinds of fitness activities and programs work for them. Third, find activities that you enjoy and can do on a regular basis. This will help you stay committed and have fun.
As outlined by the National Institute on Aging, there are four core areas of fitness that you should consider when you are designing your exercise routine. These include endurance, flexibility, strength, and balance.
Endurance: Exercises in this category help you improve your cardiovascular fitness and make you better able to complete your everyday activities. Below are a few suggestions of activities you can try to see what will work for you.
Walking: Walking is the simplest and easiest way to get your fitness show on the road. You can walk around the block or take your strides on the treadmill in the comfort of your own home. If you choose to walk outside, choose smooth paths that reduce the risk of tripping and falling, and be sure to check the air quality if you have a respiratory condition such as asthma.
Fitness classes for seniors: It is worth checking out to see if your community offers fitness classes for seniors. In addition to providing guided fitness instruction, these classes can give you a sense of community and a support system, and they can be just plain fun.
Water sports: Water sports are a wonderful fitness activity because they reduce the stress put on joints by other forms of aerobic activity. You can try things like lap swimming, pool walking, and deep water aerobics. Check with your community pool or YMCA to see what classes are available.
Flexibility: Increasing your flexibility reduces the risk of injury and gives you better range of movement for your everyday tasks. Exercises in this category include stretching and yoga, among others. Warm up with some light aerobic activity before stretching; warmer muscles are more limber and, you are less likely to pull something than if you start cold.
Strength: Strength training improves muscle tone, posture, and bone density. You can do simple exercises with free weights or resistance bands, but be sure to work all the major muscle groups in order to avoid strength imbalances.
Balance: Balance and flexibility often go arm-in-arm; yoga is one of the exercises that improves balance as well. Balance training helps seniors become more confident in their movements with less fear of falling. Tai Chi, an ancient Chinese art, improves balance through a series of slow, deliberate movements, and is a safe and low-impact exercise to add to your exercise regimen.
It can be difficult to get off the couch and get moving, but the benefits of exercise far outweigh the costs. If you’ve never been active in your life, take comfort that it is never too late to start; turns out that you can, in fact, teach old dogs new tricks.