The Importance of Health and Fitness as We Age

This year, National Senior Health and Fitness Day falls is celebrated on May 31st. This day is an opportunity to focus on how to stay fit and active as you age. There are many fitness options for all ages, but programs that focus on certain types of exercise or fitness philosophies may be uncomfortable, or even dangerous as you age. Crossfit, training camps, strength training programs, and intense workouts may not fit into your life or routine after retirement. Finding new ways to stay fit and still have fun can be challenging, but many resources exist that focus on senior health and fitness, and there are steps you can take at home to get started on the right track. Your fitness journey is lifelong, and discovering new ways to uphold a healthy, active style of living is a positive step to remaining fit and exciting for years to come.

Find Fitness Programs for Seniors in Your Area

Taking classes at the local gym can be fun, but occasionally the different skill levels and physical expectations in all-access classes can be overly strenuous. Finding classes that are geared toward gentle exercise, rehabilitation exercise, or senior fitness will ensure classes that move at a steady pace without pressure to over-exert yourself. An excellent resource for senior-specific fitness classes is your local senior center or community center. Call the organization, or find a local catalog, to find classes that fit your interest and skill level. As a bonus- group fitness classes are the perfect time to socialize and meet new friends in your community, and develop a support network for your fitness journey.

Join a Gym or Health Club

If you are a self-starter, but are interested in using weights or equipment you may not have access to at home, consider joining a local gym. Gyms are a great place to use a wide range of equipment and exercise tools to tailor your own fitness experience. Many gyms offer specialized services, such as group fitness classes, swimming pools, saunas, massage, and training assistance. With a working knowledge of basic exercise equipment and machines, the gym will prove to be the best place to focus on your workout. You can go in any weather, and set up a consistent routine. You can take time to socialize, or bring headphones or a book to set up on the treadmill.

If you are concerned about paying for an expensive gym membership, there are resources to assist you. Many gyms have discounted rates for the middle of the day or limited days of the week, which are inconvenient for someone with a desk job, but perfect for your post-retirement open schedule. Additionally, programs like Medicaid or Silver Sneakers assist seniors in paying for gym memberships in hopes that lessening this financial barrier will allow more seniors to focus on their health and fitness.

Find a Personal Trainer

It is a widespread misconception that personal fitness trainers are only for body-builders or extreme weight loss. Fitness and exercise does not come naturally to everyone, and is a learned skill. If you are having trouble developing a fitness routine for yourself, or have questions about how to tailor a workout to your needs, hiring a personal trainer can be a helpful first step.

It is important to find a trainer who takes the time to understand your needs, interests, and limitations. A trainer who assigns a generic workout routine or something you feel uncomfortable completing is not the trainer you should hire. Seek out local reviews or trainers who specifically cater to senior fitness. Keep an open communication about your fitness needs and a good trainer will help you achieve those goals. Having the support of a personal trainer is especially helpful if you are dealing with new limitations, recovering from injuries, are starting a new workout routine, or simply don’t know where to start when it comes to personal fitness. Before you overwhelm or injure yourself trying to succeed on your own, consider hiring a professional to help you achieve your goals and stay fit.

Think Outside the Box

Staying fit and exercising regularly does not have to mean going to the gym or even going for a run. There are so many options for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Finding exciting classes, new activities, or making small changes to your daily routine can have you on track to living a long, healthy life without ever stepping foot on a treadmill.

Find local classes or groups you can participate in. Taking a ballroom dancing class, a swimming lesson, or joining a hiking club can get you out of the house and into exciting activities. Being active and healthy does not have to be boring or strenuous. Joining local outdoor groups, like bird watching, walking, or photography are great options for staying active and entertained. When you are having fun and making new memories, you will get exercise without having to count steps or lift weights.

Find Fitness in your Everyday Life

After retirement, it can be easy to fall into an unhealthy routine without the structure of work and the schedule you have become accustomed to. However, making positive, healthy choices and developing an active lifestyle does not have to be difficult. A new view on every day activities can bring a new perspective to what it means to be healthy and active.

Instead of watching TV or reading a book at home, make an effort to focus on structured activities that get you outside the house and into an active state of mind. Simple chores and hobbies, like gardening or dancing, are the first step to integrating healthy choices into your regular routine. Take small steps to incorporate a more active take on regular tasks. Take a walk around the block when you go out to get the paper, or go the long way to get the mail. Take your book to the park and find a shady spot to relax, get a cup of coffee or a healthy meal at an outdoor mall with friends, or just pick up the pace a little when walking the dog. Taking the initiative to improve the healthful quality of normal activities will allow you to incorporate more activity into your regular routine with very little effort.

Focus on Nutrition

Exercise is not the only path to an active and healthy lifestyle as you age. Even if you take the steps to be more active and add to your regular exercise routine, nutrition plays an important role in your health as you age. Making small changes and learning about what your body needs to thrive is an easy way to ensure health and wellness in the coming years. Even if you are generally a healthy person, your body and its nutritional needs can change with age, injury, medication, or lifestyle changes. Taking the initiative to give your body the food and nutrients it needs to function well is a strong step to a long and healthy life.

The local library can be an excellent source of nutritional information. Look for recipe books that focus on senior diets or improving nutrition. You can also take this opportunity to take a local class on nutrition and health. Look into offerings from your local senior center community center, community college, gym, or health food store. Information and research on nutrition is being discovered all the time, and staying up to date on what your body needs to thrive will aid your fitness journey and lead to a refreshed, healthy lifestyle.

Exercise Your Mind

For seniors, not only your body is aging and changing, but your mind as well. Research shows that taking time every day to actively exercise your brain can lead to better cognitive function in our later years. Many of the previously covered fitness suggestions, such as taking classes, learning new hobbies, and practicing new fitness routines are excellent resources to keep your mind healthy and active as well.

For more relaxed ways to keep your mind active and working every day, try incorporating active-brain activities into your daily routine. Simple changes, such as doing a word puzzle over coffee in the morning or taking the time to socialize with friends or grandchildren, can help keep your brain functioning well for many years. To challenge yourself and keep your mind active, you can participate inconstant learning. Challenge yourself with a new book, a senior course at the local college, or a fun lecture series offered by your local senior center or library. Participating in these activities can keep your mind active and healthy, and keep your daily life fun and exciting.

Celebrating National Senior Health and Fitness Day is about celebrating the long, healthy lives of ourselves, our friends, and our neighbors. Taking small steps to ensure an active and healthy lifestyle will help make sure you can live every day to the fullest, no matter your age. Take action for yourself and your health today, don’t wait, and experience all the excitement and youthfulness that an active lifestyle has to offer.

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