As we get older, our bodies can’t do as much as we used to. We start to struggle with health problems that make daily activities, such as going up and down stairs or doing the laundry much more difficult. When something as small as taking the trash out presents an issue, physical activity can seem even more daunting.
It would seem that if you have knee problems, for example, you should avoid doing physical activity that strains your knee. However, physical activity, when done properly, can actually strengthen your joints and help prevent future injury. Furthermore, certain exercises are designed to improve your balance, which can help prevent future falls and even worse injuries.
Even beyond your muscles and joints, physical exercise has endless health benefits. It can help prevent many of the health problems, such as diabetes, that accompany age, according to the CDC. When combined with a healthy diet, physical exercise can help you lose weight or maintain a healthy weight.
Physical exercise also has enormous benefits for your mental health. It can help with depression, anxiety, and even loneliness, since staying fit helps your mobility, enabling you to spend more time with the people you love.
Furthermore, research has suggested that physical activity can lower your risk of cognitive impairment, Alzheimer’s disease, or dementia of any kind in the elderly. (NCBI)
For people who are 65 years or older, who are generally fit, and who have no limiting health conditions, the CDC recommends two hours and 30 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity each week. While that seems like a lot of time, you can break it up into manageable segments, maybe doing 20 minutes of activity each day.
Most assisted living facilities offer exercise options for their patients, including stretching, weight training, swimming, and more. There are also many community-based health programs offered by organizations such as the CDC or the National Council on Aging.
Aerobic activity can include swimming, water aerobics, biking, walking – really anything that gets your heart rate up. It’s important to find activities that you enjoy so that you’re more likely to keep up the habit. It is also important to have variety in your exercise routine so that you don’t damage certain muscles or joints through repetition.
The CDC also recommends muscle strengthening activities that work all major muscle groups two or more days each week. This type of exercise is very important, because it is what keeps you strong enough to continue biking, walking or even just living your life independently.
If you’ve never done muscle strengthening activities before or if you’re not sure how to do the exercises properly, you may want to consider exercising with a personal trainer who will make sure you have the correct form. Muscle strengthening includes exercises such as calf raises, side hip raises, and lunges. To strengthen your upper body, do exercises such as bicep curls, overhead press, and upright rows.
You also may want to consider balance training, which includes exercises such as “sit to stand,” where you practice standing up from a chair. It also includes exercises such as standing on one leg or walking heel to toe.
When beginning a physical exercise routine for the first time, you need to remember to take it slowly. Trying to do too much too soon can cause injuries, and it can make you unnecessarily frustrated when you can’t do certain exercises. Learn to listen to your body so that you can differentiate between soreness, which means your muscles are growing, and pain, which means something is wrong. Once you have established a regular physical exercise routine, you will begin to feel stronger and healthier.