We all know that having an exercise routine is good for us, but as we grow older, the obstacles to being physically active increase. The changes our bodies go through as we age can make exercise seem daunting. We may have new health concerns, worry more about injuries, or be on a tighter budget than earlier in our lives. In reality, exercise gets even more important as we get older, and there is no better time than right now to start an exercise routine.
Why Exercise Matters
The evidence is overwhelming that physical activity and exercise are important for seniors. There is a strong positive association between exercise and improved health outcomes. Exercise helps seniors live longer and maintain their independence and quality of life. There is a growing body of evidence to suggest that physical activity benefits the mind as well. Studies have shown that moderate exercise reduces the risk of developing cognitive impairments like dementia.
The World Health Organization recommends that people aged 65 and older get at least 150 minutes per week of moderately intense aerobic activity. This averages out to 30 minutes, five days a week. Additionally, they recommend seniors perform balance exercises at least three days a week and muscle strengthening activities on at least two days.
If these guidelines seem overwhelming or unattainable, don’t despair. Most of us fall far short of these recommendations. You are not expected to reach these goals when you first start exercising. Just 10 minutes of walking is a good place to start and will help make physical activity a part of your daily routine.
Tips for Starting an Exercise Routine:
Talk With Your Doctor
You should always speak with your healthcare provider before starting any exercise program. There are certain conditions that may contraindicate some types of exercise. Your provider can tell you what exercises are safe for you, what to avoid, and what to watch out for while you are working out. If pain or injuries are an issue for you, meet with a physical therapist to design a fitness program that will match your challenges and goals.
Getting and staying motivated are important factors when starting any new fitness program. Working out with a group or partner can help you stick to your exercise routine. A partner can give you a push and hold you accountable on those days when you’d rather stay inside. Another helpful motivator is identifying and writing down your “why.” Why is fitness important to you? Are you determined to live in your own home as long as possible? Do you want to reduce your stress? Is your goal to walk your granddaughter down the aisle at her wedding? Having concrete reasons and goals for exercising will help you follow through.
Pick Something You Enjoy
If you hate being indoors, than joining a gym isn’t a good plan for you. Pick forms of activity that you enjoy, because if you enjoy what you are doing you are much more likely to stick with it. There are many creative ways to exercise, such as swimming, walking, dance, yoga, group classes, or a team sport. Ideally, you should aim for a variety of activities, some targeting your cardiovascular health, others your balance, and others focused on strength building.
Make it a Lifestyle
Starting an exercise routine is great, but maintaining it for the long-term is your ultimate goal. The best way to do this is to think of exercise as a lifestyle change rather than a chore. Start out small and build activity into your daily routine so that it becomes a habit that you don’t even have to think about. Once you adopt a healthy lifestyle and start seeing the benefits, you won’t want to stop.
There for You When You Need Us
At Seniors Prefer Homecare, we know that exercise can help seniors live a longer, happier life as well as contribute towards maintaining their independence. To place your mind at ease, Seniors Prefer Homecare is a licensed and insured home care provider, and all of the home health aides that we employ are carefully screened beforehand. For your convenience, we can customize a personal care program that works for you. Please visit our website at www.seniorspreferhomecare.com to learn more about the types of home care services we provide in the in Birmingham, Huntsville or Tuscaloosa Alabama areas.