It’s no surprise that as we age, we lose strength, flexibility and balance. But there are a variety of ways to keep safely exercising in order to maintain the activities you love, keep your independence, prevent falls, reduce pain and even lower your chances of illnesses such as heart disease. To encourage quality of life, choose from any of the following activities to build strength, improve mobility and make sure you stay steady on your feet.
First, make sure to pick something you like. It sounds obvious, but a lot of people choose activities that are either not appropriate or are things they think will be good for them. But if you don’t like to do something, chances are you won’t keep doing it, which defeats the purpose. Healthline.com states people 65 years or older should get 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity per week, so choose something you want to keep doing.
Also, check with your physician before starting anything new to make sure it’s appropriate. You can start with a professional trainer to make sure you are performing exercises and strength training properly or sign up for introductory classes at your gym or studio.
Key strengthening activities include body-weight training, resistance bands and weight training. Activities such as squats, arm raises, bicep curls, leg raises, regular or wall push-ups and daily stretching can all be low impact and can gradually be scaled up as flexibility and endurance increase.
Some of the best activities for increased mobility and balance are swimming, pilates and yoga. All three use the full body and are easy on the joints. Yoga has also been shown to improve overall health and well-being in addition to improving balance. Another popular exercise is walking. Start your walks with 10 minutes and work up to 30, with the eventual addition of three- to five-pound weights.
Staying social is also essential to overall health as you age so find other people who share your interests and exercise goals. Working out together can add fun and accountability to the experience and keep you motivated.
If you understand the three areas of focus necessary to achieve fitness, you will be able to improve your mental and emotional health and balance, decrease pain and depression, prevent falls and potentially ward off illness. Most importantly, you can keep doing the things you love with friends and family.