However, it is extremely important to create an active lifestyle as a senior citizen. There are many benefits to becoming and staying physically fit:
- Helps to maintain an ideal weight. Metabolism slows down as we get older, which leads to weight gain. Daily activity boosts the metabolism, which helps us lose weight, or maintain a healthy weight.
- Keeps the mind alert, and may lower risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia.
- Improves sleep and helps you wake up refreshed. (Just don’t do any vigorous exercise right before bedtime, as it can stimulate you.)
- Enhances flexibility and stamina, prevents loss of bone mass and improves balance
- Improves mood and self-confidence, and relieves stress.
- Reduces the impact of illness and chronic disease. Exercising regularly helps improve blood pressure, lower risk of diabetes, heart disease, and osteoporosis, to name a few.
How do you start an exercise program if you haven’t exercised in years?
Follow these tips:
- It’s important to get your doctor’s approval before starting an exercise program.
- Start slowly. A ten-minute walk in your neighborhood is a good start, as long as you are in a safe neighborhood or senior living community.
- All you need is a comfortable pair of walking shoes and weather-appropriate clothing. Wear a hat to protect yourself from strong sun.
- Walking with a friend is a great idea – the time will pass more quickly, and you can motivate each other.
- Listen to music, a podcast or an audiobook.
- Set goals that are appropriate for your age. If you start with a ten-minute daily walk, increase it to 12 or 15 minutes next week.
- If you are not able to walk due to illness, or because you are in a wheelchair, you may be able to lift light weights, to improve muscle tone, and you can do gentle stretching exercises which will improve cardiovascular health.
- Walking a dog is great exercise, and enjoyable too, if you like dogs. If you don’t have a dog, you might want to walk a neighbor’s dog.
- Explore the classes offered at your senior center. You may find something you have never tried before but discover that you enjoy, such as yoga or water aerobics.
- Always listen to your body, and make sure you stay well hydrated. Stop exercising if you feel any pain or feel out of breath.
A consistent walking program is sustainable until your 70’s or 80’s, as long as your health allows.
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