“If you had to choose one thing that came closest to the Fountain of Youth, it would have to be exercise”– Dr. James Fries, a medical doctor and leading authority on aging at Stanford University for AARP.
All people need to be active, but this is especially true for seniors. That’s because this is a shortcut to better health and energy, and more fulfilling lives that feel really good.
Also, elderly who exercise are more likely to live longer, with sharper minds and…well, bodies.
The Importance of Exercising: Feel Good, Sleep Better, Think Clearer, Breathe Deeper
We mentioned feeling good- a direct result of better circulation and more oxygen, but it can also emerge from connecting with other people while exercising: for example, during longer walks (everything counts!) or dance classes.
If you are in-home care, have a live-in personal assistant, and still can move, you can ask your assistant to be your company while doing some light exercise as well. It’s of utmost importance for both your physical and mental health and vigor.
Another benefit is better sleep! We know how the elderly have trouble falling asleep, especially at night. Exercise will for sure heighten your spirit and reduce some sleep-related fears and concerns, so this is the way to make sure you sleep like a log.
But after long hours of sleep, make sure you do the stretching to activate your muscles and prepare your body and mind for the day. Remember, you need to warm up and stretch before the workout, and most certainly after it, for it prevents injuries and strains. It can be done in a sitting position as well.
Beginners, don’t rush! Start very slow, don’t push your body limits. Wait for your body to gain flexibility and stamina over some period of consistent exercising.
Yet, be wary: don’t settle for a one-hour walking if it’s followed by ten-hour sitting: sitting for a long time impacts blood pressure and sugar, and triglycerides and cholesterol levels. Try to stay active and hydrate a lot.
Here is a list of ideas you can do to avoid prolonged inactivity.
For instance, if you want to see a friend, make an effort to slowly walk and chit-chat, instead of sitting entirely.
Or, use a pilates ball for sitting. That’s great for balance and your spine, so much so that companies worldwide started changing chairs for those almighty balls. Find help to find the right one.
Can you dance and talk? Great! Next time you are on your phone, use the time to wiggle a little bit.
If you are technology savvy, there are several options here: use VR glasses to recreate a climbing trail or a beach for a nice walk, play a YouTube channel with exercises for the elderly, or using a Sony Wii to play tennis. Anyway, you can always ask for help with the gadgets.
On the other hand, you can make an effort to exercise three times a week. So, have you tried cardio exercises?
Darvis Simms, a certified ACE personal trainer who works with people over 40, explains the benefits of cardiovascular exercise in this article:
“[It] helps [you] to lose and maintain a healthy weight […] [It] Increases your stamina. [It] Wards off viral illnesses. [It] Reduces health risks. Cardio combined with strength training reduces the risk of many conditions, including obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, stroke, osteoporosis, and certain types of cancer.
[It] Manages chronic conditions. [It] Strengthens your heart. [It] Keeps your arteries clear. [It] Boosts your mood.”
He adds“Cardio also keeps your mind sharp. At least 30 minutes of cardio three days a week seems to reduce cognitive decline in older adults.”
This is a workout that advances heart and lung performance since you have to move upper and lower muscles to which the body responds by breathing faster and deeper to provide the body with more oxygen while removing carbon dioxide and lactic acid. As a result, you produce endorphins, natural pain killers and mood swingers, known for their positive effect on human’s comfort, welfare, and happiness.
Cycling, running, playing tennis, swimming, brisk walking or walking on a treadmill are all cardio activities. Which one do you prefer?
But please, don’t be disheartened if you’ve never exercised before. Your mind may tell you that there’s no point, but don’t trust it. Trust the medical doctors and physicians instead.
If you can move, don’t stop at that. There are numerous benefits of working out after the age of 60, mostly concerning your physical health- your back aches a lot less, your breathing is not disruptive, you don’t feel light-headed, blood vessels are cleaner, the heart is stronger, you move more easily.
Let’s not forget the mental health benefits: your mood brightens, thinking is clearer and more positive, the stress level is much lower.
You might as well enjoy your life more.
In a nutshell, you feel REALLY good. What luck!
AuthorBio: Anne Harris is an HR specialist working for londonlive-incare.com. She eagerly shares her knowledge with her audience on various blogs. When she isn’t writing or attending wellness conferences, she likes to pack her rucksack and ride her day away on her bike or spend time with her friends.