Being active with age has many health benefits: To start, regular physical activity will keep your blood pressure and cholesterol levels down. It can also help you maintain a healthy Body Mass Index (BMI), which, in turn, keeps your risk low for certain health conditions like cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.
Studies have also shown that older adults who are physically active have better-quality sleep as well as fewer symptoms of depression. Exercise and strength training can help with balance and coordination, reducing your risk of fall and injury. And, cognitive decline is also reduced in those who are physically active. Get moving with these simple tips.
If you’re not currently physically active and are worried about easing back into a more active lifestyle, talk with you doctor. He or she may recommend that you see a physical therapist who can help you plan an exercise program or monitor you while you exercise.
The goal is 30 minutes of exercise each day, but you don’t have to do it all at once. Three 10-minute sessions are just as effective and may be easier, depending on your fitness level. As you become stronger, you can increase to two 15-minute periods and later a full 30 minutes, if it’s comfortable for you.
Know what you can handle
You don’t have to run a marathon to have great fitness. Find an activity, whether it’s a solo or with a team, that meets all your expectations for fitness activity and enjoyment. Walking is great for many people. It doesn’t require any special equipment—you’ll just need good shoes—and you can do it anywhere and in any season. Sometimes the key to staying active is to be interested in your activity. Many senior centers offer yoga or tai chi classes, which can help with balance and flexibility. Water aerobics is a great option that is low-impact and ideal for adults with knee or foot problems.
Be sure to stretch
Stretching after your exercise (during the “cool-down” phase) is essential in preventing any soreness or muscle aches later. Fitness experts usually do not recommend stretching before physical activity; doing so can weaken muscles and decrease performance.
Don’t let disease hold you back
Even those with medical conditions such as heart disease or diabetes can exercise. (In fact, it’s very important that they do.) It’s just important to keep in mind possible signs of problems—like chest pain, extreme shortness of breath, dizziness or unusual heart rhythm. If you’re in a supervised setting, let someone know your symptoms. If you’re not, stop your exercising, and call 911 if the symptoms continue or worsen.