As we get older, we tend to become more comfortable and set in our ways. Weight gain slowly but surely creeps up on us, making it even more challenging to be active.
However, it is essential 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 the intense 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 excellent 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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