Exercise and Mobility: Staying Active as You Age
For many Americans exercise is a four-letter word. If you have been told by your doctor that you should increase your level of physical activity, today is the perfect day to start. There are so many good reasons to add exercise to your life. Did you know that exercise and physical activity can help to manage diseases like diabetes, heart disease and osteoporosis?
Regular exercise can help you maintain or improve your physical strength, fitness, balance, and make it easier to do all the things you enjoy each day. Physical activity can reduce feelings of depression and improve overall mood and sense of well-being. With regular exercise, you may even find it easier to shift between tasks, plan activities and be able to sort relevant information from irrelevant information.
It’s no secret that exercise is good for you. We can all afford to do a little more of it. The question is often where to start and how to get motivated. You can get started by setting goals. Realistic and specific goals can make it easier to get started with a regular exercise plan. Start small. I’m going to buy new walking shoes. I’m going to walk for 15 minutes three days this week. Build up to the bigger challenges. I’m going to walk a mile every day. The more you exercise, the more you’ll want to. Grab a friend and together you can work towards improving your health and well-being through regular exercise.
Wondering what kind of exercise to do? There are four main categories of exercise – Endurance, Strength, Balance, and Flexibility. Let’s take a look at each one and some of the activities that fall within each category.
- Endurance. Endurance exercises are designed to increase your heart rate. Endurance or aerobic exercise will improve your overall fitness with a focus on keeping your heart, lungs and circulatory system healthy. If you have diabetes or heart disease, you may want to discuss starting endurance exercises with your doctor. Endurance exercises work to mitigate the effects of chronic diseases. Examples of endurance exercises include brisk walking or jogging, dancing, swimming, biking, and playing tennis.
- Strength. Strength exercises will make your muscles stronger. Stronger muscles make it easier to stay independent and take part in the daily activities you enjoy. Strength exercises are also commonly called strength training or resistance training. Examples of strength exercises include lifting weights and using resistance bands.
- Balance. Balance exercises are essential for preventing falls. Balance exercises are important for aging individuals who are often injured during falls. Balance exercises are easy to perform and can be done in the comfort of your home, often without any additional equipment. Examples of balance exercises included standing on one foot, heel to toe walking, and Tai Chi.
- Flexibility. Flexibility exercises stretch your muscles and keep your body limber. With added flexibility it is often easier to do simple things like bending to tie your shoes or picking up items that have fallen on the floor. Shoulder and arm stretches, calf stretches and yoga are examples of flexibility exercises.
As we age, exercise becomes even more important; staying active helps us to stay healthy. “It is so important to keep moving and to stay active. Elderly individuals who maintain an active lifestyle are often healthier and happier,” says Larry Meigs, President and CEO of Visiting Angels.
Whenever you decide to start an exercise program, it is important that you consult with your health care provider. Your doctor can help you determine what kinds of activities are safe and recommended for your current level of health and physical activity. If you begin exercising and experience any difficulties, including dizziness, chest pain or pressure, sores that won’t heal, joint swelling, or feeling that your heart is skipping or racing, please contact your doctor immediately.
* This information is for informational purposes only.