When it comes to physical fitness, the old adage of “use it or lose it” rings true – especially as we age!
While most people wait until the new year to make ambitious exercise resolutions, the healthiest approach to staying fit hinges on developing a well-rounded, achievable exercise routine that you can follow every week. Read on for advice on how you can make this the healthiest holiday season ever with these simple exercise tips for seniors.
Benefits of Staying Active
A body in motion stays in motion, and older people who remain active enjoy a number of long-term physical and mental health benefits.
- Exercise can delay the onset of conditions like osteoporosis, diabetes and heart disease.
- Bodies in motion release endorphins and other hormones that improve mood and ward off depression and anxiety.
- Active seniors typically have better balance, making them less likely to experience falls and recover faster from injury.
- Seniors with healthy exercise plans often remain more independent later into life.
Covering Your Body’s Needs
With so much to gain, you might be tempted to throw on some sneakers and get to work, but taking the time to plan an exercise regimen that covers all of your body’s needs are key. Good exercise plans include:
Aerobic Activity – Walking, jogging, climbing stairs, swimming and bike riding (pretty much anything that makes you sweat) are all great foundations for an exercise plan. These activities are meant to raise your heart rate and preserve your cardiovascular system.
Just 15 to 30 minutes of light aerobic activity per day can go a long way towards preserving your health, and since most aerobic activity takes place outdoors, it’s a great way to stay engaged in your community.
Flexibility – We put a lot of wear on our joints over the course of a life, but a simple morning routine of bending and stretching can help prevent muscle strain and other exercise-related injuries. Additionally, remaining flexible into our older years is an important part of completing many activities of daily living that allow seniors to continue living independently.
Balance – Falls remain one of the most significant and preventable causes for senior hospitalization and the resulting injuries from a fall can have lasting impacts on a senior’s health.
Seniors can lower their risk of falls by regularly working on their balance. Simply standing on one foot at a time after morning stretches can help you maintain your sense of balance and makes it easier to perform other types of exercise safely.
Strength – Simple strength-focused activities can help seniors avoid loss of muscle and bone density, while improving their ability to perform household tasks without assistance.
Lifting small (one to five pound) hand and leg weights twice a week can be a great way to stay in shape without investing in large pieces of exercise equipment. Just be sure to give your body a few days to rest between sessions, as muscle fatigue can take some time to wear off.
General Advice on Exercising
- Before entering a full exercise routine, consult with your doctor or other medical advisors to ensure your plan is sustainable for the long-term, as well as ways you can modify common exercises to account for the specifics of your health needs.
- Start slow, especially if you have not been physically active in recent years. Exercise routines only work if you can stick with them, so over exerting yourself at the start of a week can work against your goals.
- Exercise only helps if you are well. Take a break from your routine if you feel sick and remember to start slowly if you miss more than two weeks of regular exercise.
- Dress the part with loose-fitting clothes that will prevent chafing or overheating, clean socks and well-fitting sneakers or other athletic shoes.
- Drink plenty of water before, during and after exercise.
- “No pain, no gain” is not a healthy philosophy. If you experience soreness the day after a particular type of exercise, you may have overexerted yourself and could be at risk of causing injuries.
SelectCare hopes you found these tips helpful, and as always, we recommend you speak to your medical team about your body’s specific needs.
SelectCare’s team of home health care experts and dedicated home caregivers are helping New Yorkers live happier, healthier lives in the comfort of their long-time homes for more than 30 years. To learn how we help, call SelectCare or request a free in-home care guide today!