Health Features

Stay Active as You Age

The physical and mental benefits of exercise are undeniable, and it’s important to keep as active as possible at each life stage, but seniors should be especially careful about deciding on a fitness regimen. Safety is paramount, especially since your balance, strength and stamina may not be what they once were. Here are some practical tips to make exercise more manageable as you age.

Workouts don’t need to be long or arduous.
Short, moderate-intensity sessions can be very beneficial, and they’re a sensible choice for older adults; the key is to stay consistent with them. Working out in three 10-minute intervals during the day can be just as helpful as exercising for 30 minutes straight.

Exercising from home can be easy and pleasant.
Try some quick bouts of activity like stretching or walking briskly around the block to break up the monotony of days spent at home. Even regular pastimes like yard work can double as workouts.

You can work out without spending a lot of money.
There are lots of invigorating indoor workouts that don’t require the purchase of heavy equipment. Hand dumbbells, resistance bands and other simple supplies can make exercising at home easy and economical. You even can use items like full water bottles and canned goods in place of weights, and a large, thick bath towel on carpet can serve as an exercise mat.

Video classes abound.
Pandemic lockdowns proved that almost any program can be adapted virtually. Check out the variety of senior-focused exercise courses available online from trainers, fitness centers and other providers.

If you’re in an exercise rut, try something new.
Over time, your body adapts to the physical demands you place on it. If you have been doing the same kind of exercise for a while, try mixing it up by using other muscle groups and increasing resistance levels. Experiment with new routines to give your body and mind a boost.

Healthy diet is an important part of the plan.
Talk to a nutrition professional about your body’s dietary needs as you age. Ask how proper diet and regular exercise can work in tandem for your health.

Know your limits.
Exercising later in life should not be about pushing the envelope. Play it smart and safe, listen to your body, and stop for a rest when it tells you to.

Get an exercise buddy.
Working out can be even more stimulating when you have someone to support and motivate you.

If you feel discomfort when working out, stop and talk to your doctor.
Exercise shouldn’t be painful. It always makes sense to discuss a fitness regimen with your physician.

How does exercise benefit the body and mind?

  • Improves cholesterol and blood sugar levels
  • Reduces blood pressure and boosts circulation
  • Keeps joints healthy and comfortable
  • Improves energy level and well-being
  • Supports healthy mood and sleep
  • Combats stress, depression and anxiety
  • Fights boredom
  • Helps cope with isolation

Sources: National Institute on Aging, NIFS

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