Why it's never too late to start exercising
Being physically active can help you stay healthier as you age. It can also provide a host of other benefits, from allowing you to do the things you love to do to keeping you more independent.
Exercise offers older adults benefits such as help to:
- Prevent or manage some health conditions, such as heart disease, stroke and diabetes
- Improve strength, balance and flexibility
- Increase stamina and energy levels
- Manage weight
- Reduce stress and improve mood
- Keep your brain sharper
- Provides an outlet for socializing
Different types of exercise provide different benefits. Try to incorporate a variety of physical activity into your life, including:
- Aerobic exercise: Exercises that make you breathe harder and faster are good for your heart, lungs and circulatory system. Walking is a great aerobic exercise for older adults, but it's important to find something you enjoy doing. You can dance, play with your grandkids or garden to get similar benefits. Try to get 150 minutes of aerobic activity weekly.
- Strengthening exercise: Keeping your muscles strong helps you stay stronger, allows you to maintain independence and helps prevent osteoporosis. You can lift weights, use resistance bands or pick up everyday objects, like cans of food. Aim to do strengthening exercises twice a week.
- Balancing exercise: Adding in some balance exercises can help you reduce your risk of falls. Tai chi helps improve balance. So does standing on one foot or walking in a straight line heel-to-toe.
- Stretching: Staying flexible as you age will help prevent pain and stiffness. It can also improve agility and balance. After warming up your muscles by doing other types of exercise, take a few minutes to gently stretch your arms, shoulders, back and legs. Yoga can also help you maintain flexibility.
Even if you haven't exercised in the past, it's never too late to start. But before starting any type of physical activity, you should always check with your doctor first.
Gundersen offers Get Movin'…to Better Health, a six-week educational fitness program for people with chronic conditions that limit their quality of life. We'll help you set program goals, establish a safe exercise routine and learn how to exercise at home. To learn more call Gundersen Exercise Physiology at (608) 775-2955.