Staying active is important because it helps us lead healthier and more enjoyable lives. Not only do we feel better mentally and physically, we reduce the risk for common diseases such as osteoporosis, diabetes, and heart disease. Staying active can help us stay independent for longer and reduce fall risk significantly.
Interestingly, being active also improves brain function by increasing endorphins, improving cognitive function, and even reducing memory-related diseases like dementia and Alzheimers. Being active is a major factor that can help you feel better and live longer.
Unfortunately, most older adults don’t get enough exercise. It’s time to change that as we head into 2023!
Consider What Types of Movement You Love
The problem most people have is they try to choose a physical activity that they don’t actually like…and then they wonder why they can’t stick to it.
So, if you hate going to the gym, skip it! Set yourself up for success by finding activities that you enjoy.
Not sure? Think back to what you liked to do earlier in your life. Did you love to swim? Hike? Bike? Garden? Play tennis? Think about what lit you up, and then get creative!
- If you like to swim, maybe give water aerobics a try.
- If biking felt great, perhaps an incumbent bike makes sense.
- If you loved hiking, how about a treadmill with an incline setting? Or a walk in the park?
- If tennis was your favorite sport, would ping pong be fun?
- Was dance your cup of tea? How about trying chair yoga or ballroom dance?
The key is finding movement you actually enjoy… so you stick to it!
Remember To Consult Your Healthcare Provider
Once you have determined what types of movement you want to try, have a conversation about your goals. Chat with your healthcare provider about:
- Your current level of activity
- What new movement you want to incorporate into your routine
- How to best gradually begin getting more active
This conversation will help you ensure that you make these healthy changes safely!
Remember that increasing your physical activity is going to take some time. Go slowly and be patient with yourself so you can avoid injury and make it a fun experience.
Warm up, cool down, and don’t overdo it. Slow and steady. Remember, this is supposed to be fun!
Don’t Overlook The Benefits of Walking
Walking is a wonderful non-strenuous way to improve physical fitness. Walking daily can reduce the risk of stroke, diabetes, and heart disease. Consider a walk in the park, a stroll around the mall, or even an extra lap around the lobby of your building. Make it a point to get up and walk during “commercial breaks” when you are watching TV, and you’ll soon see the health benefits start to add up!
Build Strength and Balance
We lose a lot of muscle mass as we age, so building strength is important. Strength training also helps improve flexibility.
Even using a 2-5 pound weight can make a difference. Start small and slowly work your way up. There are many videos online that show simple dumbbell exercises for seniors. Check them out. Remember, start slow and build your way up!
As we age, we are more and more likely to fall. Safely do activities that help you build your balance. Try standing on one leg (use a chair or wall for extra support), or even pretend you are walking on a tightrope– in a straight line. These small movements make a big difference for balance.
Get Accountability and Support
Eventually, you want to get moving at least 3-5 times per week for 30 minutes each day. Doing that activity with someone else can make a big difference!
Consider walking with a friend, meeting with a personal trainer, going to the gym with a relative, or signing up for that gentle yoga for osteoporosis class you’ve had your eye on.
Whatever types of movement you choose, phone a friend and get it on the calendar. You’ll be more likely to follow through. (It also makes it a heck of a lot more fun!)
You can do this! Listen to your body and remember, it isn’t a race. Go slowly and work your way up. Start with what you have and do what you can. Wishing you a healthy and happy 2023!
Chatham Place at Mary Wade supports active, engaging lifestyles. We offer a wide range of social and recreational activities that help you get moving. Our well-appointed fitness center provides residents with top-of-the-line equipment and support. Additionally, excursions off-site and daily programs engage the mind, body, and spirit. Contact us to learn more.