Exercise is just as important in your older years as when you were younger. It’s well known that regular exercise can help to boost heart health, maintain a healthy body weight, keep joints flexible and healthy, and improve balance to minimize falls. And it’s not as time-consuming as you may think. For general health benefits, older adults need about 2.5 hours of aerobic (walking, running, and other activities that get the heart pumping faster) activity per week, combined with muscle-strengthening activities at least two days per week.
Easy ways to exercise.
Exercise actually comes in many forms, including activities that feel more like fun than hard work:
Dance. Sign up for a dance class with your spouse or a friend or carve out some dance time at home.
Go bowling. Join a bowling league or make a weekly date with some of your friends. If you have grandchildren, bring them along.
Rediscover a favorite sport. Whether you love the elegance of golf or the challenge of tennis, make time for these leisure activities. If possible, vary your activities over the course of each week to work different muscle groups.
Enjoy the great outdoors. When the weather cooperates, ride your bike, visit a local park for a hike, or simply go for a walk. These are all great exercises that get you outside and into the fresh air.
Get in a swim. Swimming is an excellent exercise choice, particularly if you have arthritis joint pain. Join a local fitness center with a pool and work in regular swims to meet your cardiovascular needs without straining your joints.
Balance and strength count, too.
To help prevent falls, you also want to practice exercises that improve your balance. Yoga and tai chi fit the bill – and they will also help you manage stress, feel more relaxed, and improve muscle tone. Yoga or tai chi classes are widely available in many areas, from senior centers to the Y.
Taking some time to stretch every day can also help keep your joints flexible and keep you moving well. It’s also important to lift some light weights – canned goods from your cupboard are a fine substitute – or use a resistance band to tone your muscles.
Work out while you work.
Add a little “elbow grease” when doing chores such as cleaning the house, raking leaves in the yard, or gardening, and these regular activities will count as a workout.
Remember that getting older doesn’t mean slowing down. You’ve got to keep moving to stay young at heart…as well as in mind, body, and spirit.