What can you do to improve your mood, manage stress, remain cognitively agile, and improve your overall health? No matter what age you are, physical activity is crucial for your mental and physical wellbeing. If you’re hoping to have more energy even as you get older, exercise is a great way to do it. It has the ability to keep you living independently longer, and your risk of disease decreases. So as a senior, what are some good ways to stay active, and how can you do it safely? Here are some things to keep in mind.
- Start Slow & Take It Easy
If it’s been a while since you’ve been physically active, make sure you start slowly. The goal is to stay as healthy as possible. You’ll really want to ease yourself into exercise so you don’t sustain any kind of injury whatsoever. Don’t push yourself too hard – listen to what your body is telling you. Work your way up in intervals of maybe 10 or 15 minutes. Give yourself time and space to breathe.
- Make It a Priority
It’s important to understand that in order to really maximize the benefits of being active, it should be done on a regular basis. Try to develop of a routine for yourself. Having a somewhat steady routine in general can also help boost your mood. It might be easiest to try exercising first thing in the morning. Motivate yourself to get going – that way you can treat yourself by relaxing later in the day.
- Get Social
Invite a couple of friends to get active with you! Use this as a time where you can socialize and catch up with everyone while also doing something great for your health. The more you enjoy what you’re doing, the more you’ll want to do it!
- Make It Fun – Do What Works for You
What do you enjoy? You might try walking, gardening, yoga, or water aerobics. This is a great opportunity for you to explore some things you may have never tried before. Get creative, and make your daily exercise something that you have fun doing!
Switch it up occasionally as well. On nice days you can go for brisk walks with friends or put a pair of headphones in with your favorite music while you work in the yard. Walking is also great because you can do it indoors if the weather isn’t great. Water aerobics, swimming and yoga can also be done indoors, so you can get yearlong enjoyment out of them.
Consider different activities that can help improve your endurance, strength, flexibility, and balance. When you do lots of different activities, you reap the benefits of many different types of exercises.
- Listen to Your Doctor
Always consult with you doctor before trying anything new. It’s so important that he or she is up to date on what you’re doing. If you’re at risk for heart disease or have any health concerns whatsoever, it’s especially important you talk with your doctor beforehand. Safety is the number one priority! Listen to your doctor, listen to your body and have fun staying active!
Whatever your age, it’s never too late to get active. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), inactivity increases with age and the loss of strength and stamina, often attributed to aging, is partly due to reduced activity. The CDC reports that by age 75, about 1 in 3 men and 1 in 2 women engage in no physical activity.
There are numerous benefits to becoming physically active as a senior of any age. Not only does exercise help maintain the ability to live independently and reduce the risk of falling, but it also reduces the risk of dying from heart diseases and certain cancers. Exercise also helps control swelling and pain associated with arthritis. While exercise can do wonders for physical health, it can also improve and maintain mental health.
Tips For Staying Safe During Physical Activity
Whether you are already an active senior or wish to become more physically active, your safety is important. Here are some tips to staying safe while staying active:
- Take it Slow: If you’re interested in increasing your level of activity (or you want to make significant changes in your current routine), but haven’t been active in awhile, it’s important to start out slow. By starting out slowly, you’re less likely to sustain an injury or overdue it right away. Experts recommend starting with short intervals, 5 to 10 minutes, of moderate activity and slowly build up.
- Always Consult With Your Doctor: Every workout program comes with a warning to speak with a medical professional before starting the program. The warning is not supposed to be viewed as a mere suggestion, but rather to be taken seriously. If you are at high risk for heart disease, are diabetic, obese, smoke, or have any other health concerns, you should always check first with your doctor before exercises. Other reasons to check first include: new or undiagnosed symptoms, chest pain, or heart beat irregularities.
- Choose Activities Best Suited for You: There are plenty of types of exercise that you can try. Whether you choose yoga, water aerobics, pickleball, or weight lifting, it’s important to know how to properly engage in the activity. For instance, if you fail to follow the directions on a weight machine or you aren’t sure what to do, your chances of being injured are greater.
Additionally, it’s a good idea to find an exercise you can do all year round or a few you
can participate in throughout the year. For example, walking is a great exercise which can be done indoors and outdoors. It can also be started out slowly and at shorter intervals, but can be easily adjusted for increased activity. For safety while walking, it’s a good idea to walk in an area that has a smooth and soft surface, and is well-lighted. It is also wise to avoid areas that intersect with traffic.
In addition to staying well-hydrated during your exercise, it’s important to wear comfortable clothing and wear appropriate shoes for the activity. If you begin to experience any pain or discomfort while exercising, consult with your doctor right away.