Staying active is important for every age group, but particularly beneficial for older adults. Many experts suggest that it is one way to prevent many diseases including cardiovascular disease and diabetes. There are four main types of exercises that older adults should consider participating in: endurance, strengthening, stretching, and balance exercises. Each of these has particular benefits for the older adult. It is essential that before beginning any exercise program no matter how strenuous or easy you think it is that it be cleared with your NJ primary care physician.
These types of activities improve the heart and the circulatory system. They are commonly called “aerobic” exercises but this does not mean signing up for a marathon. It can be walking, swimming or riding a bike (stationary or otherwise). These can all help get the heart pumping and increase circulation which can be beneficial for many things such as lowering blood pressure. It is important to seek out a professional who can help design an aerobic exercise program that will be appropriate for your needs and present fitness level.
These types of activities will help build muscles which can help reduce typical age related muscle loss. Muscles are built when repetitive motions are used to lift weights. This can be done using free weights or machines. Elastic bands work well for working the muscles too. It is important to begin with very light weights to prevent injuries and build up as the fitness professional directs.
Stretching can help keep the body flexible and limber. It can be done simply by moving the limbs in full range of motion slowly, or by participating in a stretching class at local gym or facility. Yoga is one of the most popular means of achieving flexibility and helping to keep the body limber and moving.
Balance is very important and can help reduce the chances of falls. Participating in balance exercises and activities can help improve posture and ease of walking. Yoga and Tai Chi are very good exercises that can help improve balance.
How to Get Started Safely
One of the first things to be done before beginning any type of fitness program is to okay it with your doctor. Once he gives you the “okay” then you will need to make a commitment to yourself to stay involved. You will need to manage your exercise program around other health concerns. For instance, if you are diabetic or take medications you will have to set an exercise schedule that will work with your regimen.
Begin slowly. Space out the workout times throughout the day and do them in 10 minute increments instead of all at once. Or attend only one class a week. And always warm up, cool down and stay hydrated. Any time you feel shortness of breath or sharp pains it is time to stop.
Even though you may have some elaborate goals in mind, try setting small reachable goals. This will help you stay focused and keep from becoming discouraged. Set goals like improving energy levels or reducing stress instead of just weight loss goals. Sign up for an exercise class with a friend or group of friends. That will help you stay motivated about attending. Try walking with a friend each day instead of alone – this can be much safer and provide encouragement to continue.
If there are some types of physical limitations that hinder you from participating in exercise programs, be creative. There are videos that can be done at home, attend swimming classes that are designed to be easier on the joints, or go out for ballroom dancing. These can all have physical benefits for older adults without causing stress or strain on muscles or joints.