I’ve written many blogs on aging and the importance of staying physically active. There are so many benefits to incorporating exercise into our lives. Regular exercise can lower the risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and depression and it can help control weight, improve mood, sleep, and just provide a better quality of life. Staying physically active also improves osteoarthritis pain according to the Arthritis Foundation and National Council on Aging and preserves mobility.
The best way to get started is to first talk with your health care provider for guidance on what kind of exercises you should include in your daily life. Then, enlist the help of someone who will keep you accountable with your exercise routine. Last, create your physical activity plan. Here are some items to keep in mind and some suggestions for activities you and your exercise companion might enjoy:
- Don’t set unrealistic goals or push yourself to doing activities outside of your comfort zone. And, don’t overdo the activity. You want to avoid stiffness or soreness that could come from over-extending yourself.
- Start simple with walking, and remember that walking your dog counts, as well as dancing or even gardening.
- Mix it up! Get a mix of muscle-strengthening and flexibility activities as well as aerobic or endurance activities.
What are some good aerobic choices? Try walking, swimming, water aerobics, cycling, etc. Try to work up to 30 minutes of aerobic activity five days a week, as suggested by the National Council on Aging. If you can’t do 30 minutes all at one time, aim for 10-minute intervals throughout the day and work your way up.
For muscle-strengthening exercises, try using resistance bands or light weights, and consider joining a yoga, Pilates, or pool exercise group. The key here is to work major muscle groups two times per week. Lastly, pay attention to proper form and do slow, controlled movements.
For flexibility, try tai chi or yoga, gentle stretches or flexibility exercises. Stretch your muscles while they are warm to reduce injury, and add balance exercises to help reduce the risk of falling. Talk with your health care provider to learn more about what kinds of activities and exercises you can do to support flexibility and balance.
To learn more about fall prevention, consider registering for our Fall Prevention, Health Management and Home Design classe.