It's the time of the year when many of us like spending time outdoors. Reading in a park or on the front porch, campfires with friends and family at night, long walks on trails, are all great, but you know what's better? Consciously making the time and effort to get some outdoor exercise.
An active lifestyle is very important for seniors because regular exercise can help manage heart disease, diabetes, and it can also reduce joint pain associated with arthritis. By improving balance, flexibility, endurance, and strength, older adults can stay active and independent for longer. The National Institute on Aging is a great resource for learning more about the exercise benefits for seniors. Just remember to check with your doctor before beginning a new exercise program.
Experts recommend four types of exercise for older adults: endurance, balance, strength, and flexibility. Brisk walking, dancing, and other endurance exercises improve the health of your heart, lungs, and circulatory system. These exercises can make it easier for you to mow the lawn, climb stairs, and do other daily activities. Strength exercises include lifting weights or using resistance bands. They can increase muscle strength to help with activities such as carrying groceries or lifting grandchildren. Balance exercises can help prevent falls—a major health risk for older adults. Stretching, or flexibility exercises, can give you more freedom of movement for bending to tie your shoes or looking over your shoulder as you back out of the driveway.
Factors like limited mobility, visual impairment and pain can make a difference in the types of exercises you're are able to do. So, low-impact exercises are a popular and safe choice for seniors. Low-impact exercises allow for less strain on the body while still providing a means of staying physically active. Exercising in the pool, whether swimming or doing water aerobics, is a good option, as are gentle forms of Yoga, Pilates, Tai Chi, stretching, and light weight training. Remember that many exercises can be modified to accommodate low-impact needs — ask your doctor or fitness expert about ways to adapt these activities.
There are many things that can get in the way of staying active. No more excuses! Here are some tips to help you overcome those barriers and improve your health.
As a Healthcare Consultant, I always encourage my clients to consult their doctor before starting a new exercise program. Some of the questions you should ask are:
1. Are there any activities or exercises that I should avoid?
2. Is my preventive care up-to-date? (for example, women over age 65 should be checked regularly for osteoporosis).
3. How do my health issues affect my ability to exercise?
If you have any related questions that I might be able to help with, please feel free to connect with me by posting a comment below. Let's get moving!
Healthcare Consultant, in4MED
Current physical activity guidelines
The author of this blog post is a Physician with over 10 years of experience working in the healthcare system as a clinician, researcher and educator. She is passionate about healthcare for older adults and strives to be a resourceful inspiration to caregivers.
*No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified healthcare professional.