Excercise and fitness as you age

As you grow older, an active lifestyle is more important than ever. Regular exercise can help boost energy, maintain your independence, and manage symptoms of illness or pain. Not only is exercise good for your body, it’s also good for your mind, mood, and memory. Some of the many of exercise for adults over 50 include improved immune function, better heart health and blood pressure, better bone density, and better digestive functioning.

Exercise improves your strength, flexibility and posture, which in turn will help with balance, coordination, and reducing the risk of falls. Strength training also helps alleviate the symptoms of chronic conditions such as arthritis. It also benefits regular brain functions and can help keep the brain active, which can prevent memory loss, cognitive decline, and dementia. Exercise may even help slow the progression of brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease.

Tips for getting started

  • Get medical clearance from your doctor, especially if you have a pre-existing condition. Ask if there are any activities that you should avoid.

  • Consider health concerns, for example, diabetics may need to adjust the timing of medication and meal plans when setting an exercise schedule. Above all, if something feels wrong, such as sharp pain or unusual shortness of breath, simply stop. You may need to scale back or try another activity.

  • Start slow. If you haven’t been active in a while, it can be harmful to go "all out." Instead, build up your exercise program little by little. Try spacing workouts in ten-minute increments twice a day. Or try just one class each week. Prevent crash-and-burn fatigue by warming up, cooling down, and keeping water handy.

  • Commit to an exercise schedule for at least 3 times a week.

  • Recognize problems. Exercise should never hurt or make you feel lousy. Stop exercising immediately and call your doctor if you feel dizzy or short of breath, develop chest pain or pressure, break out in a cold sweat, or experience pain. Also stop if a joint is red, swollen, or tender to touch.

Building blocks for your exercise programme

  • Cardio endurance exercise - use your large muscle groups with exercises such as walking, swimming, rowing, tennis, stair climbing, cycling and dancing. This helps lessen fatigue and shortness of breath.

  • Strength and power training - builds up muscle with repetitive motion using weights or elastic bands. Strength training helps prevent loss of bone mass, builds muscle, and improves balance - both important in staying active and avoiding falls. Power training can improve your speed while crossing the street, for example, or prevent falls by enabling you to react quickly if you start to trip or lose balance. Building strength and power will help you stay independent and make day-to-day activities easier such as opening a jar, getting in and out of a car, and lifting objects.

  • Flexibility - this challenges the ability of your body’s joints to move freely through a full range of motion. It can be done through stationary stretches and stretches that involve movement to keep your muscles and joints supple so they are less prone to injury. Yoga is an excellent means of improving flexibility. It helps your body stay limber and increases your range of movement for ordinary physical activities such as looking behind while driving, tying your shoes, shampooing your hair, and playing with your grandchildren.

  • Balance - it maintains standing and stability, whether you’re stationary or moving around. Try yoga, Tai Chi, and posture exercises to gain confidence with balance. It improves balance, posture, and quality of your walking. Also reduces risk of falling and fear of falls.

Source: www.helpguide.org

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