Aging takes a toll on the body. Muscle mass dwindles, balance becomes precarious, and various medical conditions—Type 2 Diabetes, cardiovascular issues, high blood pressure, strokes—become more common. However, you may be able to keep these conditions away or under control with a regular exercise routine. Also, exercise will give you greater flexibility and higher levels of energy.
Even if you have never exercised before, you can start an exercise routine at any time. Within a short time, you should see significant improvements to your health and improve your lifestyle.
Do older adults really need an exercise routine?
Older adults often assume that exercise is for younger people. They believe they are past their prime and should have started long ago. Banish these thoughts! Older adults can still see many improvements if they start exercising now. Benefits from exercising include:
- Increased life span
- Improved cardiovascular health
- Healthy blood pressure levels
- Fewer falls
- Better mental health
- Improved executive function
- Lower healthcare costs
- The ability to live more independently
How seniors can find an exercise routine that is safe and fun
There are many ways to find exercise programs that will help you reap the benefits without injuring yourself, exacerbating existing medical conditions, or doing too much too fast.
- Work with a doctor. This is especially true if you have unstable medical conditions or are medically fragile. Your doctor can prescribe the right exercise for you.
- Consult a physical therapist. Physical therapists are experts at designing exercise programs to help you meet your goals. They can work around your injuries or medical conditions to keep you safe.
- Try group exercise. Joining a group exercise class can make exercise more enjoyable, help you meet new people, and make it more likely that you will follow through on your exercise plan. Many gyms and community centers have classes that are designed for older adults.
- Look for something scalable. Some functional fitness and CrossFit gyms have trainers or physical therapists available who can help you modify the program so it will work for you. Call around to find one of these programs near you.
- Start with low-intensity exercise and move to higher intensity when you get stronger. Pushing yourself too hard at the beginning can cause injury. It’s better to start with something that feels easy and increase intensity over a period of months.
- Make a commitment. It may take a while before you enjoy exercise. Commit to working out for at least 6 months before you try to change anything or decide that it isn’t for you.
- Have an emergency plan. If you’re worried about what will happen if you get injured or have a medical event while exercising, talk to your exercise leaders about that. You can ask your physical therapist what to do in case of an emergency or make sure your gym or community center has a plan in place.
If you’re an older adult without an exercise routine, call your doctor or physical therapist today to ask about developing one. Pretty soon, you’ll be on your way to feeling better and living better, too!
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease.