One Key to Aging Well: Staying Active
Regardless of age, exercise is one key to remaining active and vibrant. In addition to maintaining and improving overall quality of life, regular exercise can add flexibility, balance, and strength. These key physical attributes offer several benefits that can help older adults continue to live healthier, longer lives, including:
- Extended independence
- Greater stability to prevent falls
- Increased energy
- Decreased likelihood of diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and osteoporosis
- Reduced chance of depression
- Improved cognitive function
Of course, there are some risks that come with the benefits of exercise, including potential injuries. But by working with your doctor, most adults older than 65 can safely exercise, including those with chronic illnesses such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and arthritis. Before you start any new exercise routine, be sure to ask your doctor about your specific situation.
Improve your quality of life
Regardless of your fitness level, any exercise routine should include all four types of exercise for maximum benefit: endurance, balance, strength, and flexibility.
Endurance increases your breathing and heart rate and helps to improve the health of your heart, lungs, and circulatory system. Endurance exercise also helps build energy. Endurance exercises include:
Strength training makes your muscles stronger. You can build strength by including one or more of these activities, adjusted to meet your physical ability:
- Lifting weights
- Using a resistance band
- Doing body-weight exercises (push-ups, sit-ups)
Improving your balance and flexibility will improve your overall mobility and prevent falls, and it can also increase your ability to participate in other exercises. You can work on both balance and flexibility with simple routines such as:
- Standing on one foot
- Walking heel-to-toe
- Tai chi
Increase your activity level
An exercise regimen is most effective when you are active at least 30 minutes each day. That doesn’t have to mean a daily trip to the gym, though, as you can easily incorporate additional steps into your daily routine. For example:
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator
- Park farther away from your destination
- Walk or bike places instead of driving
- Walk your dog
- Work in the yard
Whether you participate in a regular exercise routine or just increase your activity level, you should include a short warm up – about 5 minutes – before you start. Walking slowly and then stretching are good warm-up activities. You should also cool down with more stretching for 5 minutes when you finish exercising. Be sure to cool down longer in warmer weather.
Check with your doctor before you begin any new exercise routine, particularly if you’re over 50 or aren’t used to exercising. You should also check with your doctor if you experience dizziness or shortness of breath, any chest pain or pressure. If you’ve had a recent infection or surgery, you’ll want to ask your doctor how long to wait before you start back. And, of course, always consult your physician if you experience any joint swelling or sores that won’t heal.
By taking a measured and thoughtful approach to starting any new exercise program – and by maintaining any regimen once you start – you can help ensure continued mobility, independence and good health as you age.
Nursing Care Centers managed by American Health Corporation – including three locations in Alabama – are well prepared to support your health and wellness goals and are proud to offer the highest quality skilled nursing healthcare and programs designed to allow residents to maintain the skills and abilities needed to live as independently as possible.
Contact the American Health Corporation nursing home in your area today for more information or to schedule a guided tour:
Oak Trace (Bessemer, AL) 205-428-9383
Colonial Haven (Greensboro, AL) 334-624-3054
Perry County Nursing Home (Marion, AL) 334-683-9696