Exercise for Older Adults – Just Do It!
Exercise at any age is important for health, vitality and overall wellbeing. By incorporating consistent, daily activity with various endurance, strength, balance, and flexibility exercises, people age 65 and older have a better chance of preventing injuries associated with age and preventing chronic diseases. And while the benefits of exercise most often outweigh the risks, before you begin any type of exercise program, it is imperative that you check with your primary physician before doing so.
Starting an exercise plan
For many seniors, it can be overwhelming to think about starting a regular exercise routine, especially for those who have never exercised on a regular basis. I tell my clients the best way to begin is to start by committing to doing some sort of physical activity every day and to choose something they like to do. Whether it’s walking, bike riding, swimming, or yoga – try to do it daily for a set time, say 10 minutes to start. The key is consistency – make the commitment to set aside 10 minutes each day and then do it! From there you can start increasing your frequency, even if that means you do 10 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes in the afternoon. What’s important is that you are doing something and building a daily, healthy habit. Eventually, you should be able to do 40 minutes of cardio activity a day – which is the recommended goal for older adults.
Once you’ve made a habit out of a daily cardio workout, I recommend adding strength training and balance workouts into your routine. By adding strength training and balance/flexibility, you will not only reduce the risk of osteoporosis but you also will lower your risk of falling and breaking bones. Two to three days of strength training is ideal, but never on the same day. Balance exercises are so important, especially for older Americans, that I recommend doing them daily. You can even incorporate balance exercises into your daily chores or activities. For example, try standing on one leg while doing the dishes or brushing your teeth.
No time like the present to start exercising
There are many reasons getting or staying active as we get older is a good and necessary thing to do. Exercise is good for your mind, body and spirit. It can improve memory, lessen pain or symptoms of illness and it increases energy. Whatever age or physical condition, it is possible to incorporate some type of exercise into your daily life. The benefits are amazing.