I have been wondering what to write about in my next blog that was related to my theme of ‘Keep Moving’. As I was taking a walk it occurred to me that what I was doing at that moment is essential to good health, a good healthy habit, and is an activity for virtually every senior citizen. As I walked along I started to think about the benefits of exercise and how it was related to our quality of life. As we age we need to understand that exercise can have a positive effect on our lives. It can delay some aspects of aging such as the ability to move and a decline in mental agility.
Remember, it is never too late to start an exercise program. An active lifestyle is important to our overall health. By moving we can boost energy, maintain our independence, protect our current health, manage symptoms of pain and illness, and improve our outlook on life. A recent Swedish study found that physical activity is a key contributor to longevity even if you start exercising late in life.
There are many physical and mental benefits to regular exercise and an active lifestyle that can improve your quality of life. For example, some physical benefits include:
- Weight loss. As we age our metabolism slows and exercise helps to increase metabolism and builds muscle that burns calories.
- Reduces the impact of illness and chronic diseases, improves our immune system, helps to control blood pressure, and improves bone density, as well as aiding in lowering the risk of Alzheimer’s, diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis, and certain cancers.
- Improves mobility and flexibility by improving strength which helps with balance control that can reduce the risks of falls.
Mental health benefits can include:
- Improved quality of sleep.
- Proper rest between workouts gives our body and mind time to recharge and regenerate.
- Improved mood and boosts self-confidence.
- Helps us feel younger
- Reduces stress levels
If you start to exercise late in life it can be more of a challenge to get started, so don’t lose sight of the fact that you are never too old to start. You just have to set realistic goals for yourself and what level of fitness you wish to achieve depending on the types of activities you wish to participate in. Start out slow and keep up a regular routine and you will gradually, and surprisingly, see how much you have improved. You will have more energy, your mood will improve, your stress level will fall, you can better manage symptoms of illness and pain, and you will see improvement in your overall well being.
Examples of simple exercises and activities that benefit seniors include but not limited to walking, water aerobics, yoga, Tai Chi, senior sports, gardening, fitness centers, bicycling, and dancing to name a few.
The idea of adding regular exercise to your daily routine is more about adding movement and activity to your life rather than building muscle mass and doing more strenuous activities. It helps with everyday activities that we take for granted. For example, climbing stairs, walking, house cleaning, washing the car, mowing the lawn, gardening, getting in and out of the car, opening a jar, and being able to turn our heads when backing out of the driveway (although rear view cameras are making that a thing of the past) to name a few. As we age some of these everyday activities become harder or almost impossible to do without assistance. Therefore, we want to maintain our independence for as long as we can and regular exercise can help.
I should mention that before beginning an exercise program one should :
- Check with their physician to get his or her approval to begin an exercise program.
- Listen to your body as you progress. Exercise should be enjoyable not painful. If you are hurting after a workout back off some of the activity.
- Start slow and gradually build up to more strenuous activities.
- Warm up and cool down to prevent injury. Stretching after a workout can help remove tightness.
Whatever activity you choose to undertake make it enjoyable as well as productive. Maybe find a friend to exercise with so you can motivate each other, but I hope you can find an activity that will keep you moving for years to come.
Happy Thanksgiving to all.