Staying fit should be a lifetime goal, not just a short-lived experience. Embracing fitness principles should be top priority especially when you’re in the advanced years already. The lack of exercise during old age can lead to loss of muscle mass, decreased bone strength, reduced cardiovascular function, and poor balance. It is said that about 1 out of 10 Australians over 50 years old are not physically active. Obviously, this is not an ideal picture we want to maintain. Don’t let old age stop you from engaging in an active lifestyle. While your mobility will more likely be an area of concern, still there are appropriate exercises for your age. Get to know several fitness tips for the elderly starting with the following:
Tip 1: Consult a Healthcare Provider
Some exercises appear non-threatening until they are performed. To avoid serious health damage, consult your physician first especially if you have an existing medical condition or recently been through a surgery. Tai Chi, for instance, is a relaxing physical and mental outlet for the elderly but some movements may not be appropriate for those with knee injuries.
Tip 2: Honor Your Pace
Let’s face it, you’re no longer as mobile and flexible as you were 40 years ago. That is why you need to taper off the usual excitement felt when embarking on a new routine. Give your sedentary body a time to adjust. Start slow and honor your pace, lest you end up with injuries or burnout.
Tip 3: Stick to a Routine
Your regimen does not have to be complicated or intense. A good 30-minutes of brisk walking already yields several health benefits including improved cardio fitness and endurance. A report led by Mayo Clinic provided support to the wide range of positive effects when an elderly religiously sticks to a fitness routine, no matter how basic it is. The energy level is increased and mood is enhanced.
Obesity among elderly people causes a host of other health complications like diabetes and heart diseases. In 2004, there were 1 million Australians over 55 years old considered to be obese. This implies that obesity afflicts 1 out of 5 elderly Australians. Fortunately, with regular exercise, one can better manage his/her weight, at the same time build muscle. This evidently reduces the risk of developing lifestyle diseases like diabetes and hypertension.
Tip 4: Wear Proper Fitness Attire
You don’t need to wear tight gym clothes or baggy sweatpants if doing so limits your movements. When you’re already a senior, comfortable clothing is highly advised. Shirt and sweatpants that are neither too tight nor too loose will suffice. But of course, your attire depends on the type of physical activity you engage in. Wearing knee pads, wrist bands, support socks, or other gear may also be necessary.
Tip 5: Warm Up First
So you decided to stick to jogging as your daily exercise. You started slow, of course, yet you still experienced muscle soreness even after a week of jogging. The problem lies in the lack of stretching prior to the proper exercise activity. Warmup, being a low-level activity, is important as it raises both the body and muscle temperature to better prepare you for a more rigorous activity.
Tip 6: Choose a Custom Fitness Program for Your Needs
Don’t follow the trend. Listen to your body, consult a physician, and finally identify your fitness needs. Then you can create a program designed with your needs in mind. For instance, if you are tied to a wheelchair because of a previous surgery or a medical condition, you can include chair yoga, chair aerobics, and weight lifting into your routine. Some swimming pools provide ramps for wheelchairs so you can take advantage of this opportunity as well.
Tip 7: Select Holistic Exercises
Elderly people are prone to depression, anxiety, and other mental health problems, so it is only wise to go for a more holistic approach to exercise. Yoga and tai chi are perfect examples of exercises that target the mind, body, and spirit. Increased mindfulness and enhanced mood will also raise your motivation to live long and healthy.
If you don’t find exercising a pleasant experience, think of something you love doing and incorporate physical movements into the activity. It can be as simple as walking the dog, gardening, or dancing. You can even invite friends or join a new group so the exercise becomes more exciting and interactive.
It’s never too late to start moving around. Regardless your age, you can still be physically active and fit. Just exercise caution and follow the fitness tips above.