As adults age, their bodies go through transformations that affect metabolism, cognitive function, even cardiac and respiratory faculties. The 100 million cells you started life with are lost, damaged or die over time, and as they slowly stop being replaced, aging takes effect. What can you do to fight back? Even at 70 or 80, it’s encouraged for seniors to stay busy – through exercise, socializing, volunteer work, you name it. The benefits of staying active far outweigh the risks of leading an isolated, sedentary lifestyle. So how do you get started?
Benefits to staying active
Are you looking for new, creative ways to get your heart pumping day after day? Think about stepping outside of your comfort zone while still incorporating your interests and recognizing your mobility and time constraints. Staying busy by staying active and exercising helps:
- Fight dementia and Alzheimer’s
- Boost confidence and overall mood
- Reduce high blood pressure
- Reverse bone loss and fights arthritis
- Promote a healthy weight
- Combat heart disease and diabetes
- Build muscle and alleviate back and joint pain
- Decrease cancer risk
The flowing movements and relaxing meditation of gentle or chair yoga could be just the ticket to getting your up and moving. More heart-thumping activities like bicycling, taking brisk walks, swimming or dancing are also great ways to interact with others, which in itself, combats social isolation and feelings of loneliness that often go hand in hand with getting older.
What if I am recovering from an illness or injury?
It’s easy to feel hesitant or even scared to try new activities and push yourself with exercise, especially following an illness, injury or surgery. Doctors agree, however, that the healing properties of exercise, which strengthen your heart and other muscles plus your bones and brain, are key to accelerating recovery.
Talk to your healthcare provider about a gentle, low-impact exercise routine you can initiate that you both feel comfortable with. Acknowledging your fears while also discussing your long-term goals for healing and staying active will give you the nudge you need to get going.
And don’t forget, close to 1 out of 3 seniors over the age of 65 will experience a fall at some point, with that number growing to 1 out of 2 seniors over the age of 80. Research shows as well that those who do experience a fall, are almost 3 times as likely to fall again. It is not just assistive devices and grab bars however that help prevent falls. Improving balance, flexibility, and coordination through regular exercise are just as vital to preventing falls and the often accompanying hip fractures.
Tips for success
Starting a new routine for staying active can be the easy part, sticking with it is another matter. When motivating yourself to become healthier, acknowledge the obstacles that might block you from success – is it time? Bad habits? Fear? Too many other things to do? Before you can move forward with a new activity-focused schedule, you must clear the path of those things that hold you back.
Finally, don’t forget the power in starting small. Perhaps your routine activity starts with a few weeks of taking a brisk 20-minute walk each day with your caregiver around your neighborhood. Or starting each morning with a new yoga routine. Long-term exercise will help you build confidence and empower yourself to try harder and longer physical and mental fitness as the weeks go by. Have fun, and let us know how you stay active by leaving a comment below!
Author Bio: Jessica Hegg is the content manager at ViveHealth.com. Interested in all things related to living a healthy lifestyle she works to share valuable information aimed at overcoming obstacles and improving the quality of life for others.
Follow her on Twitter: @Jessica_Hegg