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Exercising As You Age

older man lifting a dumbel

As we spend more time isolation, our normal activities or group exercises may not be available for older adults. Don’t let the coronavirus stop you from doing your fitness routine. While social activities are not recommended at the moment, make use of your time at home to get fit with these tips:

  1. Get planting! It’s time to sow some seeds or prep that flower box for warmer days. If it’s still too frosty outdoors, start sowing in old containers inside your house. Whether you choose flowers or fruits and vegetables, gardening will not only help you keep your mind sharp. Gardening is also a form of exercise. The more you move around your garden, the better.
  2. Exercise doesn’t have to mean leaving the house. You can do it even while sitting down. There are a lot of ways to exercise if you want to. Desk and chair video exercises that you can do in your home office are available online. Browse YouTube for ones you can do or start with this one.
  3. Spring cleaning might be a little too early, but clearing out that shed or spending some time rearranging things around the house will surely make you sweat. It’s a good exercise that will not compromise your immune system.
  4. Yoga is a great exercise that is good for both the young and old. All you need is cleared up space and a yoga mat or an old beach towel, and you’re all set! Stretch those hamstrings, hold that pose, breathe deeply, and correctly to keep your circulation going. Don’t know how to do yoga? Browse the internet for easy yoga exercises for beginners like this one.

 

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Experts say that we should incorporate exercise even as we age. But exercise doesn’t necessarily mean intense cardio workouts or strenuous activities. Simple calisthenics or yoga done regularly will be just fine, as long as we keep moving those joints. Movement in your joints encourages synovial fluid circulation which is essentially lotion for your joints. Motion is lotion!

Why is exercise important for older adults?

Longevity: According to the World Health Organization (WHO), says that a sedentary lifestyle is one of the leading causes of chronic diseases and death. You can avoid all these even with gentle exercises such as swimming, brisk walking, or even doing ‘office exercise’ while watching TV.

Lower Risk of Stroke or Heart Attack: Intense cardio workouts are not necessary to raise your heart rate. Simple physical activities like brisk walking, dancing, or swimming can help you lower your risks for these health conditions.

Reduce Risk of Developing Dementia: A sedentary lifestyle increases your risks of acquiring dementia. Many studies have shown that apart from brain exercises, regular exercise can help slow down dementia or lower the chances of developing it.

Prevent or Delay Disease: People who suffer from chronic health problems like arthritis, heart disease, and diabetes, can benefit from regular exercise. This does not only alleviate many chronic conditions but also help in regulating cholesterol levels thus, reducing your chances of getting heart disease and stroke.

Boost Independence: According to the American Geriatrics Society, exercises and training for functional reach and balance for the elderly reduces their fear of falling.

Aerobic exercises or exercises that increase deep breathing and get you sweaty, improve memory. Many studies suggest that parts of the brain that control memory and analysis are more active and responsive in people who exercise than those who don’t. The reason being that robust exercise improves blood flow to the brain, providing needed nutrients and oxygen. Find the aerobic exercise that will work best for you in your current situation and get the benefit of improving your memory.

If you wish to improve your memory even further, there are specific brain exercises to improve your memory, such as:

  • memory games
  • doing math in your head
  • learning a foreign language
  • learning how to play a musical instrument
  • test your recall

For tips on how to keep your mind active, click here.

However you look at it, exercise is something we shouldn’t live without; do not wait till you’re 60 to start exercising. Begin today to build strength and stamina over time, so when you reach old age, your body will thank you for keeping this healthy habit as you can prevent many chronic diseases and maintain healthy bones and muscles that can improve your balance and prevent falls.

Image attribution: Photo from Pxfuel License to use Creative Commons Zero – CC0

 

Curtis Harvie, DNP, FNP-BC, AHN-BC

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