Wednesday, May 30th, marks the 19th annual National Senior Health and Fitness Day. The common goal for this day: to help keep older Americans healthy and fit.
Exercise is a great way to stay in shape and improve quality of life at all ages, especially later in life. Gentle exercises can improve balance and strengthen muscles without putting too much strain on the body, thus reducing the risk of falls and broken bones. An added bonus: Those who stay fit tend to have more energy.
The Key to Healthy Aging
Exercise is the key to staying strong, energetic and healthy as you get older. No matter your age or current physical condition, you can benefit from exercise. Regular exercise can help boost energy, maintain your independence, and manage symptoms of illness or pain. And not only is exercise good for your body—it’s also good for your mind, mood, and memory.
Physical Health Benefits of Exercise for Seniors
- Exercise helps seniors maintain or lose weight.
- Reduces the impact of illness and chronic disease.
- Enhances mobility, flexibility and balance in seniors.
Mental Health Benefits of Exercise for Seniors
- Exercise improves your sleep.
- Boost mood and self-confidence.
- Exercise is good for the brain.
Tips for Getting Started Safely
- Get medical clearance from your doctor before starting an exercise program, especially if you have a preexisting condition.
- Consider health concerns. Keep in mind how ongoing health problems may affect your workouts. You may need to adjust the timing of medication and meal plans when setting an exercise schedule. If something feels, wrong, simply stop.
- Start slow. If you haven’t been active in a while, it can be harmful to go “all out.” Instead, build up your exercise program little by little. Prevent crash-and-burn fatigue by warming up, cooling down and keeping water handy.
- Recognize problems. Exercise should never hurt or make you feel lousy. Stop exercising immediately and call your doctor if you feel dizzy or short of breath, develop chest pain or pressure, break out in a cold sweat or experience pain. Also stop if a joint is red, swollen or tender to touch.
Exercises generally fall into four main categories:
EnduranceEndurance, or aerobic, activities increase your breathing and heart rate. These activities help keep you healthy, improve your fitness, and help you do the tasks you need to do every day. Endurance exercises improve the health of your heart, lungs, and circulatory system. They also delay or prevent many diseases that are common in older adults such as diabetes, colon and breast cancers, heart disease, and others.
Click here for more information about endurance activities and sample exercises.
StrengthEven small increases in muscle strength can make a big difference in your ability to stay independent and carry out everyday activities such as climbing stairs and carrying groceries. Some people call using weight to improve your muscle strength "strength training" or "resistance training."
Click here for more information about strength training and sample exercises.
BalanceBalance exercises help prevent falls, a common problem in older adults. Many lower-body strength exercises also will improve your balance.
Click here for more information about balance and sample exercises.
FlexibilityStretching can help your body stay flexible and limber, which gives you more freedom of movement for your regular physical activity as well as for your everyday activities.
Click here for more information about flexibility and sample exercises.
*Information on this page is provided for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.
Source: HelpGuide.org, National Institute on Aging