Have you given up on exercise? A lot of older people do. Many people assume that they're too out-of-shape, or sick, or tired, or just plain old to exercise.
Something I hear a lot during my exercise sessions (mainly group sessions) is “oh I’m too old to be doing this!” and its usually someone in their 30’s. The truth is we can all benefit from physical activity, I have had 60- and 70-year old people join these sessions. Exercises can be modified to suit the individual, making it doable for anyone. Starting to exercise later in life is better than never starting at all. You can still benefit from exercise whenever you start, you just need to learn your limits and know what you are capable of doing without overdoing it.
Obviously, a long-term commitment to good health and exercise is the best approach to achieve whole-body health, but even starting later in life will help delay age-related frailty and muscle weakness. As we age, declining muscle mass is natural, after the age of 30 we can lose as much as 3-5% per decade.
People who begin exercising later in life can’t believe how much better they look and feel. Especially when chronic pains they have had for years gets better or disappears. High impact workouts may not be the best choice for all, but something that everyone can benefit from at all ages is strength training.
Why should older adults even be interested in strength training?
Because it's a proven way to help us fight back against many of the things which lead to an overall reduction in independence and activity participation. Not only can it help decrease pain, it can also help reduce the risks off falls and injuries that can sometimes come with age. As well as improving and maintaining flexibility and mobility can help enhance your quality of life and improve your ability to do everyday activities.
It can help reduce our risk of chronic impairments like diabetes and cardiovascular disease. And, at a time when our body will naturally get weaker without intervention, it helps keep us strong. As we lose muscle mass and strength, our risk of mortality increases. We also experience a decrease in power, which makes tasks like getting out of a chair or climbing a flight of stairs more challenging.
Even those who are entirely inexperienced to exercise can benefit from resistance training. What's needed is more specific guidance on how individuals can improve their muscle strength, even outside of a gym-setting through activities undertaken in their homes -- activities such as gardening, walking up and down stairs, or lifting up a shopping bag can all help if undertaken as part of a regular exercise regime.
Anyone can begin working out consistently at any age and it is particularly important to also stress the mental benefits of exercise as well, especially for aging adults where depression is common.
If you are thinking of starting some type of exercise, here are some tips:
· Get a check-up to be sure that you are healthy - Your doctor should check for any health conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, abnormal cholesterol levels, as well as checking your physical health like making sure your joints and muscles don’t require special precautions.
· Pick an activity that's right for you - For many older people (and for younger, too), walking is ideal. Biking and swimming are also excellent sports, and physically active hobbies such as gardening can help too. Remember, too, that strength training will complement aerobic training to build a balanced exercise program; all it takes is two to three sessions a week.
· Set a realistic goal - Aim for 30 to 40 minutes of moderate exercise, such as brisk walking, nearly every day. But you don't want to try to go from couch potato to athlete all at once. Instead, start out gradually and build up to your goal slowly but steadily. You can begin exercising for 15 minutes three times a week, and then add minutes and days as you improve.
· For best results, add stretching to your routine – this is ideal for warming up before and cooling down after your workout.
· Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself.
· Get practical advice - Consider professional guidance from a trainer, and don't hesitate to spend a few bucks on good shoes or other gear.
· Make exercise part of a complete health makeover. It's particularly important to avoid tobacco in all its forms and to eat right, control your weight, reduce stress, get enough sleep, and get regular medical care. But just as you've eased your way into exercise, don’t try to make all of these changes at once, make the other lifestyle changes you need gradually. And remember it is normal to have ups and downs throughout your journey, so don’t be too hard on yourself.
· Above all, listen to your body. It is normal to be sore from your workouts, especially when first starting out. But you need to listen to your body, if it needs a break you need to make sure you rest. You also need to make sure you pay attention to the type of pain, if it is more than just normal muscle pain after a workout, go and get it checked and don’t push through that pain.
It's never too late to start taking care of yourself, and it's never too early either. Whether you started early or later, keep going throughout life, just make sure you are doing something you enjoy.