Movement is life! Staying active as you age is one of the most important ways to stay healthy. Older adults who are not active or mobile are at high risk for a whole host of problems, such as
- Social isolation
- Chronic disease
These are just a few of the problems that occur with living a sedentary life. The more sedentary a person becomes, the more severe the problems. The good news is that older adults who remain physically active typically stay healthy. The benefits of physical exercise can include
- Lower blood pressure
- Lower blood sugar
- Lower rates of heart disease, stroke, and even some cancers
- Lower risk of falling
- Better memory
Some think that to stay active you need expensive equipment or a gym membership. That is not the case! Here are some easy things you can do to stay physically active in the comfort of your own home.
- Balance training is key to preventing falls, which can result in immobility. Balance training can easily be adapted to fit into anyone’s schedule. Simply standing from a sitting position without using your upper body is a great exercise to help stabilize and strengthen core muscles. You can also stand and simply lift one foot off the ground. If needed you can hold on to a chair next to you to prevent falling. Keep practicing and you might not need the chair anymore!
- Flexibility is a key component of physical health. Just a few minutes of stretching each day is all it takes. Try stretching first thing in the morning, before you go to bed at night, or while watching TV—whenever it fits into your schedule.
- Strength training is another important part of physical activity. The older adult should strive to incorporate some sort of strengthening activity twice a week. This could be “pushups” with your hands on a wall or countertop, or lifting “weights” with half-gallon milk jugs filled with dried beans. Use resistance bands when exercising, or try yoga.
- Cardio activity is important too. At least 150 minutes of physical activity per week is the recommended goal. This could include a brisk 30-minute walk daily, a bike ride, or a workout video. But if you can’t do 150 minutes, just keep moving; every bit helps! You may be able to set goals and work your way up to meeting or coming closer to the 150-minute recommendation. If 150 minutes is easy for you—keep going! Benefits increase as the time spent exercising increases.
Before starting any new routine, always talk to your primary care provider first. If you are inactive, be sure to gradually increase your activity to meet the recommendations. Remember, the more you can move, the better. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, park farther away from the entrance, walk to your neighbor’s house for a visit instead of phoning. And have fun moving!
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