Some seniors are concerned that physical activity or exercise might be too strenuous or do them more harm than good. In fact, it’s an inactive lifestyle that does more harm.
Without physical activity, older people tend to grow weaker in four areas important for staying healthy and independent: strength, balance, flexibility and endurance. The NIH maintains that:
• Increasing strength and endurance makes it easier to climb stairs and carry groceries.
• Improving balance helps prevent falls.
• Being more flexible can speed recovery from injuries.
Exercising regularly can also have a positive impact on the immune system, blood pressure, cardiovascular system, decrease the risk of heart disease and help alleviate depression and anxiety.
The American Senior Fitness Association offers the following recommendations for those wanting to start a fitness program:
• Get medical clearance to exercise.
• Don’t exercise if you are injured, sick or running a fever.
• Always warm up and always cool down.
• Drink plenty of water before, during and after exercise.
• Avoid heavy meals for about two hours before energetic exercise.
• If fatigue and/or discomfort last longer than one or two hours after exercising, cut back the next day but don’t stop completely. Comfort ranges can change daily, so don’t get discouraged if you can’t do the same amount of exercise as you did the day before.
• Concentrate on exercises that improve and maintain your range of motion, lubricate the joints and keep muscles flexible. Everyday activities will be easier to carry out and you’ll experience less pain.
Stop exercise and consult your physician immediately if you experience any of the following:
• Chest pain or tightness in the chest, neck or throat.
• Considerable difficulty breathing.
• Abnormal heart rhythm; nausea, dizziness, light-headedness or visual impairment.
• Excessive cold sweat.
• Extreme or lasting weakness or fatigue.
For a good, overall exercise program, consider T’ai Chi, a self-paced system of gentle physical exercise that involves slow, graceful movement. Each movement smoothly flows into the next. Studies suggest that T’ai Chi improves balance and knee joint stability.
Staying active does the body and the mind a world of good. Find exercise and activities that you enjoy and stick with them to improve your quality of life.
– Courtesy of Family Features