Whether you were once much more physically active or have never been one to exercise regularly, now is a great time to start an exercise and fitness regimen. Getting and staying in shape is just as important for seniors as it is for younger people.
Why is exercise important for older people? Getting your heart rate up and challenging your muscles benefits virtually every system in your body and improves your physical and mental health in many ways. Physical activity helps maintain a healthy blood pressure, keeps harmful plaque from building up in your arteries, reduces inflammation, improves blood sugar levels, strengthens bones and helps improve your mood. In addition to this, a regular exercise program can lead to better quality sleep, reduce your risk of some cancers and is linked to longer life.
Many older adults hesitate to get moving because they’re unfamiliar with the types of exercise and fitness that are effective and safe, as well as not being sure how much exercise they need to do. The good news is that any kind of movement is better than being sedentary, so there’s nothing wrong with starting small and working your way up to longer workouts. Your goal should be no less than 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity per week, but if you can’t start at that level, work up to it. While there are many dedicated forms of exercise and fitness for adults, you also want to stay physically active throughout the day by taking the stairs, doing gardening and playing with your grandchildren.
When it comes to exercise and fitness for seniors, most can begin without consulting a doctor, but there are exceptions. If you have a major health condition like diabetes, high blood pressure, heart or lung disease, osteoporosis or a neurological disease, definitely talk to your doctor first. People with mobility issues such as poor balance or arthritis should also get advice from their doctor.