Though regular exercise has long since been proven to have a multitude of health benefits, many fail to make the effort to stay in shape. As we get older and our bodies slow down, it can be even more difficult to pick ourselves off the couch for a jog around the park. Multiple studies, however, show that exercise is extremely beneficial for the elderly, not only does it offset and prevent diseases typically associated with old age, it’s also been linked to improved mental health and higher life-expectancies. This holds true even for those who have not previously engaged in an exercise routine. Health experts recommend the elderly engage in a program that incorporates aerobic exercise, strength training, and flexibility.
Aerobic, or ‘cardio’, exercise is any activity that increases your heart rate, whether it’s biking, running, or dancing. Engaging in aerobic exercise is key for the elderly to maintain a healthy weight by burning calories quickly. To be effective, any aerobic activity should be at least 10 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity. The level of intensity any activity has will depend on each individual’s personal fitness level and it’s imperative that whatever regimen you participate in you start at a level you are comfortable and build slowly.
One of the most pressing problems for seniors is muscle loss and associated disease, occurring at higher rates for women than men. Strength is essential to everyday function, from lifting objects to walking up stairs, and incorporating even a little bit into an exercise program will help maintain muscle mass and improve balance. Using free weights, machines, elastic bands, or your own body weight are all ways you can engage your muscles.
As a rule, flexibility should be part of any exercise program and no where is this more true than for the elderly. Stretching will help keep your joints healthy and increase your range of motion which makes you less prone to injury. Tai chi and yoga are both excellent for choice for improving flexibility, but even a simple stretch routine will help.
Remain Physically Active & Choosing What You Love
The range of fitness levels in the elderly are extreme, some may be ready to run a marathon while others have a hard time getting out of a chair. Building up an exercise regime will help you get the most out of your movement, but remaining physically active in everyday life is equally important. For older seniors, simply increasing physical activity may be the first step to starting an exercise program. There’s ample opportunity to choose activities you love, whether it’s gardening or walking the dog. Developing a program you enjoy will also help you stick with it as will doing so with a friend.
For more tips on how to keep your body in shape, visit us at MD Home Health, and don’t forget to grab your best mate, get up, and get your heart pumping.